TULSA, Okla. — UCF will head to the Big East next season without another Conference USA championship.
Alex Singleton ran for 100 yards and plunged over the top for a 1-yard score in overtime to lift Tulsa to a 33-27 victory over the Knights on Saturday for its first C-USA title and Liberty Bowl bid since 2005.
UCF (9-4) will play in the Dec. 21 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl in St. Petersburg, against an opponent still to be determined.
"We're both the best in the conference and it showed," UCF offensive lineman Jordan Rae said. "They made a couple more plays than we did. You have to give them credit."
After Cory Dorris blocked Shawn Moffitt's 38-yard field goal on UCF's possession to start overtime, Tulsa (10-3) won it with five straight runs.
"We didn't make plays when we needed to, both on offense and defense. It came down to one more stop or us putting the ball in the end zone one more time," said running back Latavius Murray, who became the first UCF player to rush for touchdowns in eight straight games in a single season. That is tied for the second-best active streak in Division I-A, behind Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein.
Tulsa's Trey Watts was named MVP after rushing for 134 yards and making the play of the game, surprising UCF by picking up a punt that appeared to be rolling dead and returning it 54 yards for a touchdown to tie it at 27 with 5:06 remaining. Watt is the son of former Oklahoma quarterback and congressman J.C. Watts.
Knights coach George O'Leary said players told him they thought they heard a whistle to stop the play, but said that was no excuse.
Blake Bortles threw for 194 yards and a pair of 8-yard touchdown passes to Breshad Perriman and Quincy McDuffie for UCF. He also ran for 60 yards and another score.
"It's very disappointing, to come that far, have it down in overtime, miss the field goal and have them score a touchdown," Murray said. "We just have to do what we have to do and make sure we win the bowl game."
In overtime, Tulsa limited Murray to short gains and forced an incompletion, leading to the blocked field goal.
It was the third time the teams have met in the C-USA title game since 2005. Tulsa won it in 2005, with the Knights taking the crown in 2007. The Golden Hurricane took the rubber match by winning the second meeting between the teams at H.A. Chapman Stadium in three weeks.
"It's tough. We gave it our best and we came up short," Rae said. "They beat us on one extra play."