Last season, UCF beat Auburn in the Peach Bowl. This year, first-year coach Josh Heupel and UCF play coach Ed Orgeron and LSU in the Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. UCF has won 25 games in a row.
LSU-UCF: Fiesta Bowl time, TV channel
The Tigers and the Knights play at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. The game is on ESPN.
LSU-UCF: Fiesta Bowl prediction, preview
The Knights won’t be scared.
UCF quieted some doubters last season when they beat Auburn 34-27 in the Peach Bowl to complete an undefeated season.
It might be difficult for the Knights to finish off another 13-0 season, however.
Some of that is because UCF will be without star quarterback McKenzie Milton. He passed for 2,663 yards and rushed for 307 yards while totaling 34 offensive touchdowns before getting hurt in the season finale. Though Darriel Mack Jr. has filled in nicely for UCF against South Florida and then against Memphis in the AAC title game, LSU will be the toughest defense the Knights will face all season.
After Milton went down against South Florida, Mack passed for 81 yards and rushed for 51 yards. Against Memphis, he passed for 348 yards and 59 yards, scoring six total touchdowns. Can he be consistent for an entire game again? Mack was only 5-for-14 passing against South Florida.
The other possible problem for UCF is the run defense. While LSU isn’t an offensive powerhouse, it would like to turn this into a physical game. Nick Brossette leads with 922 yards and 14 touchdowns, with Clyde Edwards-Helaire adding 626 yards and seven touchdowns. On the season, UCF is allowing 227.4 rush yards per game.
“Just be special. A lot of people who say ‘you can’t’ and ‘you won’t’ are scared that you will.” –@DavisGB1
Even though UCF outscored Memphis 56-41 to win the AAC championship again, Memphis RB Darrell Henderson ran for 210 yards and three touchdowns. Patrick Taylor also rushed for 100-plus yards.
Can UCF make enough stops? It would like to force LSU to throw. Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow threw only four interceptions all season, but he also completed only 57.4 percent of his passes. One reason for confidence, however, is Burrow completed 71.4 percent (vs. Arkansas), 71.4 percent (vs. Rice) and 65.8 percent (against Texas A&M) in the final three games of the regular season.
LSU-UCF: Stats, how they compare
|9-3 (5-3 SEC East)||Record (Conference)||12-0 (American Athletic East)|
|No. 11||CFP ranking||No. 8|
|31.8||Points per game||44.2|
|389.3||Yards per game||545.4|
|346.1||Yards allowed per game||423.6|
|206.8||Passing yards allowed||196.2|
|139.3||Rushing yards allowed||227.4|
2,500 yards (12 TDs, 4 INTs)
|Passing yards||McKenzie Milton (injured)
2,663 yards (25 TDs, 6 INTs)
922 yards, 14 TDs
|Rushing yards||Greg McCrae
1,101 yards, 9 TDs
788 yards, 4 TDs
|Receiving yards||Gabriel Davis
756 yards, 6 TDs
115 total tackles, 12 tfl, 3 sacks
|Defensive leader||Titus Davis
59 total tackles, 16 tfl, 6.5 sacks
LSU-UCF: Score prediction
Both teams will be pumped up for this one. LSU would like to win one for itself and to silence UCF from getting key bragging rights against another SEC team. But the Knights would like nothing more than to beat another Tigers team, go undefeated, and make a statement after getting nowhere close to College Football Playoff consideration.
Even without Milton, UCF has a chance. But LSU might have a little too much.
LSU 28, UCF 24