UCF takes unbeaten streak to desert, will play LSU in Fiesta Bowl

Dec 2, 2018, 1:11 PM
(AP Photos)...
(AP Photos)
(AP Photos)

It’s set.

The 2019 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl will feature the UCF Knights and the LSU Tigers when the two teams face off at State Farm Stadium on Jan. 1.

The Knights claimed their spot with a come-from-behind win against Memphis in the AAC Championship game. It was a game filled with adversity for UCF as Memphis hit the ground running, taking a 24-7 lead in the first quarter. Down their starting quarterback McKenzie Milton, it looked as though the Knights were going to lose their first game in the last two seasons.

But the Knights rallied back, using a 21-point fourth quarter to seal the 56-41 win that was made possible with the play from quarterback Darriel Mack Jr.

The freshman completed 19 of his 27 passes for 348 yards and two touchdowns in the victory, but it was his legs that helped get his team over the top. In the fourth quarter, the QB found the end zone three times running the rock. He finished the day rushing for 59 yards and four scores on 18 carries.

Greg McCrae led the team in rushing yards with 206 and also scored. With his performance, the running back eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards for the season.

The self-proclaimed 2017-18 National Champions have now gone two seasons without a loss, beginning their win streak of 25 games back on Aug. 31, 2017.

The Knights’ opponent is the SEC’s LSU Tigers.

LSU won its first five games of the season before losing on the road to Florida.

The Tigers, who finished 9-3, also lost to Alabama and Texas A&M.

LSU is led on offense by quarterback Joe Burrow (2,500 passing yards, 12 touchdowns) and running back Nick Brosette (922 rushing yards, 14 touchdowns).

Its typically stellar defense gave up just 20.9 points per game this season.

The Fiesta Bowl was hosted at Tempe’s Sun Devil Stadium from 1971-2006 before it moved to State Farm Stadium.

In the home of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, the bowl game hosted the second of four College Football Playoffs semifinals since the new playoff format began for the 2014 season. On Dec. 31, 2016, No. 2 Clemson defeated No. 3 Ohio State, 31-0.

The Fiesta Bowl also hosted two national title games in the Bowl Championship Series era.

In the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, No. 2 Ohio State defeated No. 1 Miami, 31-24, needing two overtimes to do so. No. 1 Tennessee defeated No. 2 Florida State, 23-16, at Sun Devil Stadium in January 1999.

Three years earlier, No. 1 Nebraska rolled past No. 2 Florida, 62-24, in a Bowl Alliance title game.

One of the most infamous moments in college football history came not in a title game but in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl matchup between the No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners and No. 9 Boise State Broncos.

In overtime with Boise State having just matched an Oklahoma touchdown and needing an extra point to extend the game with the tie, Broncos quarterback Jared Zabransky faked a quick pass while hiding the football behind his back and handed the ball off to running back Ian Johnson, who easily scored for a two-point conversion and the 43-42 win.

Last year’s Fiesta Bowl featured No. 9 Penn State, which defeated No. 12 Washington, 35-28.

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UCF takes unbeaten streak to desert, will play LSU in Fiesta Bowl