TULSA, Okla. — Cody Green connected with Keyarris Garrett for three touchdown passes Saturday and Tulsa held on to beat UCF 23-21 in a battle of Conference USA division leaders.
The win sealed the West Division title for Tulsa (9-2, 7-0) and gives the Golden Hurricane the upper hand for homefield advantage for the league championship game Dec. 1.
The Knights can still win the East Division by defeating UAB next weekend in Orlando. A win would get them a rematch with Tulsa in the conference title game.
"The big thing is we have to take care of business next week," UCF coach George O'Leary said. "I think there are a lot of guys that want to come back here and take care of some of the things we didn't get done."
Trey Watts ran for 122 yards for Tulsa, and Green finished with 252 yards passing, going 21-for-34 with an interception that UCF returned for a touchdown.
The scoring passes to Garrett went for 70, 20 and 13 yards, the last one making it 23-14 Golden Hurricane with 5:11 left in the third quarter.
UCF (8-3, 6-1) came within two points on Latavius Murray's 2-yard run with 9:01 to play, but Tulsa ran nearly seven minutes off the clock on its next series, which ended when UCF's Cam Henderson blocked a Tulsa field-goal attempt with 3:50 left.
The Knights didn't get another first down.
Quarterback Blake Bortles was 13-of-31 for 169 yards and a touchdown for UCF but was sacked four times. The Knights' offensive line, and in turn the rest of the offense, struggled all game against Tulsa's smothering defensive pressure.
"I thought the game was all about their defense playing much faster than our offense played," O'Leary said. "That's what caused the pressure on the quarterback and took some of the run game away."
UCF ran 34 times for 66 yards, 60 of them from Murray. Tulsa had 209 yards rushing on 53 carries.
Tulsa went up 10-0 with 3:51 left in the first quarter on Green's 70-yard TD pass to Garrett.
The Knights were struggling in the first half when defensive back A.J. Bouye delivered a crucial play.
Bouye picked off Green and returned the interception 77 yards for a touchdown, pushing the Knights ahead 14-10 with 3:50 left in the second quarter.
"I saw it was a bad throw, and I just went for it," Bouye said. "Instead of running out of bounds, I was trying to score because we needed a momentum shift."
Drake 32, Jacksonville 29: Mike Piatkowski threw two touchdown passes and Drake (8-3, 7-1) locked up a share of the Pioneer League title. Jacksonville (7-4, 5-3) overcame a 17-5 halftime deficit in the third quarter on Andre Addison's 50-yard interception return for a touchdown and a 32-yard TD pass from Trevius Folston to D'Andre Randle.