Monday, December 11, 2017
Colleges

UCF wins, awaits BCS bowl assignment

DALLAS — It was not the easiest path to the outright American Athletic Conference championship, but No. 15 UCF has rarely done things the comfortable way this season.

The Knights needed three fourth-down stands and an interception in the fourth quarter on Saturday to hold on for a 17-13 win over SMU in frigid 20-degree temperatures at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. SMU officials announced a crowd of 12,589, but closer to 1,000 fans used free tickets to attend the game in blustery weather.

No one would call it pretty, but the Knights did the job nonetheless. UCF navigated the conference season unbeaten.

Next stop: a Bowl Championship Series game.

"It's unbelievable," UCF safety Brandon Alexander said. "Everybody is excited. I know a lot of people haven't won a championship in their life, me being one of them, but it's a great feeling. … Everybody goes through adversity, and we've been doing that all season. But we always overcome it."

UCF now awaits its BCS fate, learning today whether it will play in the Fiesta Bowl, as expected, or the Sugar Bowl or Orange Bowl.

The most likely destination is Glendale, Ariz., to meet Big 12 champion Baylor on Jan. 1 in the Fiesta Bowl.

"I think any BCS bowl is great," UCF coach George O'Leary said. "And I'm happy to be at any one that they want to take us to."

For all that has gone wrong defensively this season for the Knights — the truckloads of yards allowed and head-shaking third downs converted by opposing teams — UCF's inexperienced unit has found a way to make big plays when it is needed most.

The Knights' rag-tag, patched-together defense did it again to hold off the Mustangs, ending SMU's season short of a bowl game for the first time in five years.

UCF got three huge fourth-down stops and an interception from junior safety Clayton Geathers in the fourth quarter, enough to protect the 17-13 lead.

The first fourth-down stop came on the opening drive of the final quarter. SMU's Neal Burcham threw an incomplete pass at the Knights' 43-yard line after UCF shut down his first two options.

Then, the Knights held on fourth and 1 from their own 40-yard line, with Geathers tackling Burcham just shy of the marker. Burcham's head hit the turf on the run and the redshirt freshman left with a concussion.

That forced SMU to use its third-string quarterback, Garrett Krstich. Starter Garrett Gilbert missed the game due to a sprained knee.

"This is what coach talks about all the time, having resiliency," UCF junior linebacker Terrance Plummer said.

The wintry blast that virtually shut down the Dallas-Fort Worth area on Friday prompted officials to offer free admission. It didn't help — there was virtually nobody sitting in the stands behind UCF's bench.

Connecticut 45, Memphis 10: Casey Cochran threw for 461 yards, a school record, and four touchdowns and receiver Geremy Davis had a school-record 15 catches for 207 yards and a score as the host Huskies closed with their third straight win after an 0-9 start. Also, Connecticut athletic director Warde Manuel says face-to-face interviews for a new coach will begin today, but he would not say whether interim coach T.J. Weist, who took over after Paul Pasqualoni was fired, would get an interview. And Connecticut junior linebacker Yawin Smallwood announced he will leave school for the NFL.

Comments
FSU beats Tulane in Tampa, stays unbeaten in basketball

FSU beats Tulane in Tampa, stays unbeaten in basketball

Published: 12/10/17
Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield wins Heisman Trophy

Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield wins Heisman Trophy

NEW YORK — Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, completing a climb from walk-on to one of the most accomplished players in the history of college football. Mayfield won a lopsided vote to become the sixth Okla...
Published: 12/09/17
Could Jim Harbaugh soon be known as Willie Taggart’s buddy?

Could Jim Harbaugh soon be known as Willie Taggart’s buddy?

TAMPA — His team was in Ann Arbor, practicing. He was signing footballs in Tampa.Yet another Jim Harbaugh fun fact."I can’t be in two places at once," Harbaugh said.Not that Harbaugh wouldn’t try it if he could. College football’s firestarter, its bi...
Published: 12/08/17

Gasparilla Bowl journal: Temple’s Collins speaks highly of former boss, new Gator Mullen

ST. PETE BEACH — If anyone has an accurate read on how new coach Dan Mullen will fare at Florida, it’s Temple’s Geoff Collins.Collins worked under Mullen as a Mississippi State assistant from 2011-14. He jumped from there to Gainesville, where he spe...
Published: 12/07/17
No. 5 Florida Gators lose stunner at home to Loyola-Chicago

No. 5 Florida Gators lose stunner at home to Loyola-Chicago

GAINESVILLE — Aundre Jackson scored 23, Cameron Krutwig added 14 and Loyola-Chicago stunned No. 5 Florida 63-59 Wednesday, handing the Gators a third consecutive loss. Less than 48 hours after Florida coach Mike White said his team’s performance agai...
Published: 12/06/17
Twitter propels man toward dream of becoming bloomin' onion at Outback Bowl

Twitter propels man toward dream of becoming bloomin' onion at Outback Bowl

No matter what happens on the field at the Outback Bowl in Tampa, the star of the show will be the bloomin’ onion. Not the deliciously crispy, glistening, 1,900-plus-calorie appetizer served at Outback restaurants, but the person who parades t...
Published: 12/06/17
Indiana hoops transplant perfectly at home in Tampa

Indiana hoops transplant perfectly at home in Tampa

TAMPA — Back home in Indiana, he was basketball royalty. He played in his first league at age 2. He lived — and loved — the hardwood life. He was accustomed to performing before more than 10,000 fans for his big games.Pat Bacon capped his storied pre...
Published: 12/06/17
Offensive guru Heupel is named UCF coach

Offensive guru Heupel is named UCF coach

UCF hired Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Heupel as football coach.Heupel quickly hired former UF interim coach Randy Shannon as defensive coordinator.Heupel, 39, was a consensus All-American quarterback who led Oklahoma to the 2000 national titl...
Published: 12/05/17
At Hall of Fame induction, Steve Spurrier and Peyton Manning share respect

At Hall of Fame induction, Steve Spurrier and Peyton Manning share respect

NEW YORK — After the class picture of the latest Hall of Fame inductees was taken, Peyton Manning made his way over to Steve Spurrier for another handshake and some chit-chat before heading off in opposite directions to do media interviews. The forme...
Published: 12/05/17
FSU upsets No. 5 Florida, its fourth straight win over Gators

FSU upsets No. 5 Florida, its fourth straight win over Gators

GAINESVILLE — Terance Mann scored 25, CJ Walker added 17 and Florida State upset No. 5 Florida 83-66 on Monday night to remain undefeated. The Seminoles (7-0) also extended their winning streak against the Gators (5-2) to four, their longest in the 6...
Published: 12/04/17