Central Florida is a win away from a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl game.
The No. 15 Knights’ undefeated season marched on thanks to a 95-yard kick return touchdown by Mike Hughes to give the Knights a 49-42 win.
Hughes’ kick return came with 1:28 left in the fourth quarter and just after South Florida tied the game on a crazy 83-yard touchdown pass from Quinton Flowers to Darnell Salomon for the game-tying score (following a two-point conversion).
South Florida had a chance to tie UCF after Hughes’ kick return, but USF tight end Mitchell Wilcox fumbled with 39 seconds to go and the ball was recovered by UCF. Wilcox was distraught after the fumble, which came after USF had gotten into UCF territory.
The win moves UCF to 11-0 and clinches the East Division in the American Athletic Conference. The Knights will play Memphis in the AAC title game on Dec. 2 for the conference title and, likely, the chance at a big-time bowl game. Barring insanity, the winner of the game will be the highest-ranked team from a Group of Five conference in the Dec. 3 College Football Playoff rankings. That will guarantee a trip to either the Cotton, Fiesta, Orange or Peach Bowls.
The victory also clinches an undefeated regular season for the school just two seasons after a 0-12 campaign. That season led to the hiring of UCF coach Scott Frost, who’s now one of the hottest coaching candidates on the market. With Florida moving on from hiring former Oregon coach Chip Kelly per Yahoo Sports’ Pat Forde, Frost seems to be the prime candidate to move up the road to Gainesville and be the new coach of the Gators.
Scott Frost on going winless to undefeated: "It's all these coaches and these players. They went from 0 to 100 real quick."
— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) November 25, 2017
The Knights have been powered by an explosive offense that lived up to its reputation on Friday, even if it was outgained by South Florida. The two teams combined for over 1,200 yards. USF had 653 of them while UCF had 561.
USF quarterback Quinton Flowers was an incredible 24-45 passing for 503 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. He rushed for 102 yards on 20 carries and a score as well. He accounted for all but 48 yards of the team’s offense and one of the Bulls’ touchdowns.
Bulls’ receiver Tyre McCants had nine catches for 227 yards and a score. He set a school record for receiving yards in the game.
UCF QB McKenzie Milton was 29-44 for 373 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. He also had 56 yards rushing and a score.
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