A decade after a winless season, Central Florida earned its first trip to a BCS bowl.
Once the Knights got there, they were given no chance at winning. Not against Baylor, the nation’s best offensive team.
They refused to listen to all the negativity and turned the Fiesta Bowl into a rousing BCS debut.
Blake Bortles accounted for 394 yards and four touchdowns, Storm Johnson ran for two early tone-setting scores and No. 15 Central Florida outlasted Baylor 52-42 on Wednesday night in Glendale, Ariz., in the highest-scoring game in Fiesta Bowl history.
“We did prove a lot of people wrong,” Johnson said.
Central Florida (12-1) wasn’t given much of a chance, entering the game as a 17-point underdog.
The Knights didn’t care about the spread and certainly didn’t back down from the big, bad Bears, racing past Baylor with an array of big plays.
They took an early 14-point lead and kept rolling, piling up 556 total yards in the second-highest scoring BCS bowl ever.
Bortles, the junior who could be weighing a jump to the NFL, was the catalyst, throwing for three touchdowns on 20-of-31 passing and running for 93 yards and another touchdown.
Rannell Hall accounted for some of the biggest plays, catching four passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson kept Baylor from ganging up on UCF’s passing game, grinding out 124 yards on 20 carries.
So much about having no shot.
“There’s not many outside of us who believe we had a chance, but we did and I think we showed what UCF football is all about,” Bortles said.
Known for its offense prowess, Baylor (11-2) had a hard time keeping up with the Knights.
The Big 12 champions finished with 550 total yards, but were uncharacteristically undisciplined, getting 17 penalties for 135 yards.
Bryce Petty tried to keep the Bears in it, running for three touchdowns and throwing for 356 yards and two more touchdowns. Lache Seastrunk had some big runs in the first half and finished with 117 yards.
None of it was enough the way UCF ran through Baylor’s defense.
“We caught a football team that was hot,” Baylor coach Art Briles said. “They played extremely well early, got into us. We tried to play catch-up the whole game, never could turn it around when it needed turning.”