(Photo: John Bazemore/AP)
The UCF Knights began the first day of 2018 trying to complete their Cinderella story of a season against the Auburn Tigers. The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl is the last game of Scott Frost’s two-year tenure at UCF before he joins Nebraska next season. After a slow offensive start for both teams in the first half, UCF held a 13-6 lead at halftime. Auburn came out of the half scoring two quick touchdowns to take a 20-13 lead, but UCF bounced back. Quarterback McKenzie Milton threw two touchdowns and the Knights defense picked off Auburn’s quarterback Jarrett Stidham to take a 34-20 lead. Auburns attempt at a late comeback came up just short giving the Knights a 34-27 New Year’s Six Bowl victory.
McKenzie Milton was the offensive star of the day despite an inconsistent throwing day. Milton finished 16/35 throwing for 242 yards and two touchdowns. Milton also rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown. UCF’s Shaquem Griffin also earned defensive MVP honors for his outstanding play. Auburn’s quarterback Jarrett Stidham threw for 331 yards and one touchdown, but his two interceptions proved to be too costly.
This win for UCF marks in my opinion one of the most significant wins in recent college football history. UCF has not only finished this season with a perfect 13-0 record but have beaten an Auburn team who has defeated both Alabama and Georgia this season. I wrote an article just over a month ago highlighting a case for UCF to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff. Now more than ever does that article hold value. It is time for college football to start respecting teams outside of the Power Five conferences. The argument that schools outside of the Power Five conferences cannot compete with the “big dogs” of college football has proven to be inconsistent. Since the start of the playoff era, the non-Power Five teams participating in a New Year’s Six Bowl has defeated a team of a Power Five conference three out of the four years. The only loss of those four came last season when Western Michigan fell just short of Wisconsin.
With the win today, Scott Frost leaves UCF with one of their biggest victories in school history. Frost hopes to continue his winning ways when he takes over Nebraska next season.