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Scott Frost, UCF cap unbeaten season with Peach Bowl victory

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 01:  Shaquem Griffin #18 of the UCF Knights celebrates after sacking Jarrett Stidham #8 of the Auburn Tigers (not pictured) in the third quarter during the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 1, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 01: Shaquem Griffin #18 of the UCF Knights celebrates after sacking Jarrett Stidham #8 of the Auburn Tigers (not pictured) in the third quarter during the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 1, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Published Jan. 1, 2018

ATLANTA — McKenzie Milton wanted to throw a blanket of 13 wins and no losses over the College Football Playoff.

After UCF capped a perfect season, he suggested it was time to respect the Knights, even if they weren't invited to the playoff.

Milton threw two touchdowns and ran for 116 yards and a touchdown, leading No. 10 UCF to a 34-27 Peach Bowl win over No. 7 Auburn on Monday.

"I said on the podium you can go ahead and cancel the playoffs," said Milton, the game's offensive MVP. "I'm not changing my mind."

Lakewood High graduate Shaquem Griffin, who had 12 tackles including 1½ sacks, was defensive MVP.

"There's no more teams left to beat," Griffin said. "To the College Football Playoff Committee: What more can we do?"

How good was Griffin? Coach Scott Frost said he played "like his dreadlocks were on fire."

UCF (13-0) had to stop a late Auburn comeback. Antwan Collier's interception in the end zone clinched the win.

The UCF players launched a joyous postgame celebration, rolling around in confetti on the field while wearing T-shirts that read "Champions." Fans chanted "Un-de-feat-ed! Un-de-feat-ed!''

"We heard someone say that we weren't supposed to be on the same field as Auburn," defensive lineman Jamiyus Pittman said. "I wonder how that dude feels. I'd love to talk to him."

Frost stayed with the team through the bowl game after accepting an offer to become coach at Nebraska.

"It was the right thing to do to come coach these guys," Frost said. "I'm so happy for these guys."

The Knights thought they deserved a higher ranking after winning the AAC and leading the nation in scoring.

Frost said "it wasn't right" for UCF to not receive more consideration for the four-team playoff.

"They deserve more credit from the committee than they got," he said. "I was watching (the selection show) every week, the committee sitting in a room and deciding that this two-loss team must be better than UCF because UCF is in the American, or this three-loss team must be better than UCF.

"It looked like a conscious effort to me to make sure that they didn't have a problem if they put us too high and a couple teams ahead of us lost.''

Auburn (10-4) was held to 90 yards rushing on 44 carries.

"That was probably the main stat that was disappointing for me," coach Gus Malzahn said.

The Knights sacked Jarrett Stidham six times. Auburn had one sack. "We felt like it was nothing that they were doing specifically," Stidham said. "It was all self-inflicted.''

After Auburn took a 20-13 lead in the third quarter on a 4-yard run by Kerryon Johnson, Milton threw a 12-yard touchdown to Otis Anderson to tie it. Milton, under pressure, zipped an 8-yard scoring pass to Dredrick Snelson early in the fourth, then Chequan Burkett's 45-yard interception return for a touchdown pushed the lead to 14.

Milton overcame a slow start after completing 3 of 17 passes for 30 yards in the first half. He completed 16 of 35 passes for 242 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Tigers linebacker Darrell Williams credited Milton with keeping plays alive, but said Auburn "should not have lost this game. We shot ourselves in the foot.''

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