It’s that great time of the NCAA Football season again, the bowl game series, and we’re here to give the best coverage that’s offered. Today we’re going to preview two very highly respected teams in their division where both teams have only incurred one loss for the year: the Big 12 Champions, Baylor Bears, and the American Athletic Conference winners, Central Florida. Both teams will square off against each other in their first-ever BCS bowls on New Year’s Day in the 43rd annual Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Game Overview: Most feel that this bowl game will be the best quarterback matchup of the 2013 bowl season. Bryce Petty leads the Baylor Bears and the nation’s most powerful offense into the Fiesta Bowl against the AAC Offensive Player of the year, quarterback Blake Bortles for UCF, who ranks 9th nationally in passing efficiency. Early in the season Baylor looked like they were going to compete for the national championship, but were disappointed when they captured their first loss to Oklahoma State Nov. 23rd. Soon afterwards the Bears were back to normal trampling teams like they did prior to their loss and once and for all claiming the Big 12 championship after defeating the Texas Longhorns 30-10 in their final game of the season.
On the other hand, UCF has gone undefeated in the American Athletic Conference while finishing the regular season with eight straight victories. It’s no secret that the only ranked teams that UCF has faced are South Carolina and Louisville and despite UCF having one of the best quarterbacks in the league they still suffered a loss to South Carolina at home. Many of the wins that UCF has also put up have been by a small margin which begins to bring up the question of whether or not that have what it takes to stop the nation’s most powerful offense.
How Baylor can win: The Baylor Bears have the chance to win their third straight bowl game for the first time. In addition, this season Baylor averaged 686 yards and 61 points in their first eight games. Bryce Petty isn’t the only shiny penny of the bunch either. Petty has a variety of targets to choose from when it comes to receivers. Wide receiver Antwan Goodley led the Bears with 67 receptions and ranks ninth in the country with 1,319 yards. Aside from Baylor’s stellar passing game, they also rank 11th in the country in rushing. Let’s also not forget that the Bears are only 14 points away from setting the all-time NCAA record for the most points scored in a 13-game season. What does Baylor has to do to win the game you say? Well Baylor just has to keep up with their own stats and that’s pretty much all there is to it.
How UCF can win: UCF already has the pleasure of having a quarterback that has the potential to put up numbers similar to Baylor’s Bryce Petty, but they will need more. Central Florida’s defense has to step up and they have shown in their division that they have the ability to do so. During the regular season, UCF’s defense held nine of its 12 opponents below their scoring average this season. The Knights are 13th nationally in scoring defense and 19th in total yards allowed. In their last five of their last six games they have held their enemies to 20 points or less. Quarterback, Blake Bortles, is ranked 9th nationally in passing efficiency averaging 273 yards per game and does an excellent job in spreading the ball around his receivers. The Knights will need help from their defense to keep Baylor’s Bryce Petty in check and hope that their star quarterback, Blake Bortles, has the answers to get UCF down the field.
Our Prediction: With the offensive abilities of both teams this game will keep viewers on the edge of their seats. However, while it may seem that both teams are equally matched, Baylor’s defense is somewhat unnoticed in its ability. Baylor’s defense ranks 17th nationally in total defense and 19th in scoring defense. Furthermore, UCF has allowed their quarterback to be sacked 14 times in their last five games. Unless Bortles’ offensive line can do a better job of protecting him as compared to his last few games, Blake will have little chance of keeping up with Petty’s offensive machine. This coupled with an underestimated Baylor defense will most likely lead to a Baylor victory of 42-28.
What do you think will happen in the Fiesta Bowl? Feel free to lets us know below in the comments section!