Peach Bowl

Central Florida (12) vs Auburn (7)

  • UCF representing the Group of Five and the only undefeated team left in the country

  • Can Auburn pick themselves up after being just one win away from the playoffs?

  • Will Scott Frost sign off from UCF with a bowl win?

Match Preview

UCF finished the season ranked 12th in the polls and as the only undefeated team left in the country, they were a shoe-in for the Group of Five slot in the New Year’s Six bowl game. However, they beat up on some pretty poor teams, whilst Auburn, despite their two losses and falling short in the SEC Championship game, achieved the remarkable feat of defeated TWO no.1 ranked teams in one season (defeated Georgia 40-17 & Alabama 26-14).

For UCF, defense was pretty much an afterthought in 2017. But despite giving up 25 points and 429 yards per game, they used an explosive offense to outscore opponents by an average of 24.2 points per game. They played tough down the stretch, holding off three of their last five opponents by just one score and they needed double OT to defeat Memphis in the AAC Championship game. That was their only ranked victory of the year

It’s been quite a turnaround for the Knights after they went winless in 2015. That transformation has seen coach Scott Frost jump ship for a Power Five job with Nebraska. But first, he has one final game as UCF coach and he’ll be looking to his QB McKenzie Milton to show just why he is ranked inside the top 10 of all the major stat categories. Milton has 35 passing touchdowns to go with 357 yards per game. But it’s his consistency which has been most impressive, and he ranks 2nd in pass completion at 69.2%.

Auburn’s QB isn’t too shabby either, and whilst I had plenty of doubts around Jarrett Stidham back in September, he’s answered all his critics by completing two-thirds of his passes and throwing for over 2,500 yards. He also took care of the ball well, throwing just four interceptions.

But as good as Stidham has been, it’s the Auburn defense which has made the team tick in 2017. They’ve allowed just 17 points per game and in the regular season, held Georgia and Alabama to just a combined 31 points. They are ranked inside the top 20 in pass defense and will be more than a match for Milton

Key Match Statistics

The Group of Five team have won 3 of the last 4 New Year’s Six Bowl games

Auburn has won all three previous meetings with UCF, between 1997 and 1999

Both teams lost Bowl games last season.

Draft Watch

Running backs are a dime a dozen in NFL Draft classes and KERRYON JOHNSON is likely to be one of the top backs to be taken in next year’s draft. Johnson won the SEC Offensive Player of the Year award in 2017 after rushing for 1,320 yards. He was an injury doubt for this game after leaving their loss to Georgia with a shoulder injury, but he’s declared himself ready to go for this one and he’ll be key to any chances Auburn have of ending the season on a high.

As good as UCF’s offense has been in 2017, their defense perhaps hasn’t gotten as much credit as it deserves. Linebacker SHAQUEM GRIFFIN is definitely one to watch. He made the All AAC 1st team this year, He’s had 154 tackles and 17 sacks over his last two seasons whilst also recording two interceptions and forcing four fumbles. He’s the game changer that the Knights may have to count on here.

My Best Bet for the Match

Sometimes I wish these college players would shut up. Despite having beaten Georgia and Alabama in the regular season, the Tigers failed to show up against Georgia in the SEC title game and may well have struggled to get themselves up for this game. That was until UCF running back opened his trap to say that “Auburn hasn’t seen any speed like we have here so I would say they’re in for a rude awakening.” That’s going to give the Auburn defense all the motivation they need and whilst the 10 point spread is a little prohibitive for me, I think the Tigers will stifle the Knights here. Total UCF Points under 28 @ 4/5 (Winner)

Current Bowl Blog LSP: +0.57 points

Results

North Texas +7 vs Troy : LOST (Troy won 50-30)
Oregon -7 vs Boise State : LOST (Boise State won 38-28)
Akron +22.5 vs Florida Atlantic : LOST (Florida Atlantic won 50-3)
Appalachian State +6.5 vs Toledo : WON (Appalachian State won 34-0)
Stanford +2.5 vs TCU : WON (TCU won 39-37)
Ohio State -6.5 vs USC : WON (Ohio State won 24-7)
Iowa State +3.5 vs Memphis : WON (Iowa State won 21-20)

College Football Introduction

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Comments (1)

Gman84

Dec 30th, 2017 at 11:35

Top stuff these previews. Good luck with your bets and #WarEagle

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