GLENDALE, Ariz. — UCF was supposed to be a patsy for Baylor in its first BCS game. The Knights wanted no part of it, turning the Fiesta Bowl into a big-play party.
Blake Bortles threw for three touchdowns and ran for one to lead No. 15 UCF past No. 6 Baylor 52-42 on Wednesday, one of the biggest upsets of the year's bowl games.
Bortles threw for 301 yards — on 20-of-31 passing — and ran for a career-high 93, 13 more than in last season's 38-17 victory against Ball State in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl.
Storm Johnson ran for 124 yards (3 off of his career high) and tied a career high with three rushing touchdowns, and Rannell Hall had four catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns for the American Athletic Conference champs.
The Knights' 52 points and 550 yards were the most against a ranked team in school history.
"I couldn't be more proud to be part of this team," Bortles said. "There were not very many people in the country who gave us a shot. I think we really came out here and showed the country what UCF's about."
UCF, a 17-point underdog also playing it its first BCS game took a 14-0 lead on Johnson first-quarter touchdown runs of 11 and 2 yards and never trailed.
Johnson's 40-yard run put the Knights (12-1) up 49-35 with 10:26 left in the game. After the Bears (11-2), the Big 12 champs, punted, Bortles led a seven-play, 32-yard drive that took 4:18 off of the clock and was capped by Shawn Moffitt's 36-yard field goal with 4:44 left.
The drive included Bortles escaping a sack and hitting running back William Stanback for 17 yards on third and 6.
Baylor drove down the field on the ensuing series, getting Bryce Petty's 9-yard touchdown pass to Clay Fuller with 1:15 left.
But UCF receiver J.J. Worton recovered the onside kick.
Petty was 29-of-46 for 347 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for three touchdowns for Baylor, whose 11 wins are the most in school history. It put up 550 yards of offense. But that was fewer than the 624.5 it averaged coming in. And the 45 points were eight off its average. (The Bears also committed 17 penalties for 135 yards.)
"They played awesome," Bortles, who threw two interceptions, said of the defense. "We put them in bad positions twice. We were shooting ourselves in the foot. But they came out here against a really good Baylor offense and played well."
Bortles is a junior projected to be a first-round draft pick if he declares for the NFL draft. After the game, Knights fans chanted "One more year!"
"I can't even begin to think about it," Bortles said of his future. "I just want to get this trophy back to Orlando."
The Fiesta Bowl was the BCS coming-out party for Baylor and UCF before college football's switch to a playoff system next season.
The Bears had been building toward this since Art Briles became coach in 2009, winding up his high-octane offense to lead the nation in scoring and churn out the second-most yards in Division I-A history.
UCF had a slower rise under George O'Leary. The coach who was fired by Notre Dame five days after being hired for lying on his resume has built his reputation back up in Orlando, taking a program that went winless in 2004 to the automatic BCS berth.
The matchup was projected to be like the 2011 Fiesta Bowl, when mighty Oklahoma rolled over Connecticut 48-20.
The Knights weren't listening.
They opened with a 76-yard scoring drive capped by Johnson's tackle-breaking 11-yard touchdown run. Johnson scored again on UCF's next possession, this one on a 2-yard run.