College Football’s 2014 Resolution of MOAR SPEED AND OFFENSE gets off to a roaring start on New Year’s day with the potential of a BCS Shootout!
The History: The Fiesta Bowl has been a long standing tradition for Arizona football fans since 1971 and has seen some of the best moments in sports history. The Fiesta has been a major part of the BCS era, hosting an NCAA record seven national championship games. Over the last few years, the bowl has become popular for the amount of trick plays that have lead to wins. From Urban Meyer’s 2005 Utah squad, to the 2007 Boise State trick plays, there is no doubt that this bowl has been known as an exciting game to watch every single season.
Let’s relive some of those great moments. Starting with the three Boise State trick plays that beat Oklahoma…
And how about this good ol’ defensive stand on 4th and goal to give the Buckeyes the championship in double OT in 2003…
Buckeye Connection: As witnessed above, the Fiesta Bowl has been good to the Buckeyes. Ohio State has played in the Fiesta six times, defeating Notre Dame (2006), Miami (2003 Championship), Kansas State (2004) and Pittsburgh (1984). The Buckeyes have lost to Texas (2009) and Penn State (1980) in the Fiesta Bowl. Current Head Coach Urban Meyer defeated Ohio State as the head coach of Florida in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl National Championship. Meyer also lead Utah to a 35-7 win over Pitt in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl.
The Buckeyes faced UCF last season, lead by current quarterback Blake Bortles in the second game of the year, winning 31-16. Braxton Miller rushed for three touchdowns on a then career high 27 carries. He was the first OSU quarterback in over 34 years to run for three scores.
Despite not playing each other since 1982, a lot of talk during the season from the media and fans pitted Baylor against Ohio State as a matchup they’d like to see at the end of the season. Ohio State and Baylor have only played twice against each other, with OSU holding a 2-0 record against the Bears.
UCF Scouting Report: Blake Bortles might be the most under-rated quarterback in the country and has quietly led his team with timely throw after timely throw. His squad offensively has been lead by his offensive prowess. On the season, the junior has tossed 22 touchdowns and compiled over 3200 yards in the air. He has been locked in the last 7 games, completing 70% of his passes. A huge part though of the Knight offense will be the running game. They’d like to keep the ball out of the hands of the explosive offense. Called upon to do that will be Storm Johnson, who averaged over 5 yards a carry this season in the backfield. A lot of the offensive playbook will consist of time of possession plays. Johnson will be called upon to move the chains to set up the play action.
Despite a good season numbers wise, the question going into Wednesday’s game will be the Knight defense. UCF only gave up 20 points a game this year, but they only feature two seniors on the two deep and haven’t faced a high possession offense like Baylor this season
Baylor Scouting Report: Everyone knows the story of Baylor, the team that was destined for a national championship berth, while changing the game of college football one game at a time. Their high possession offense that mastered the big play, torched teams all season long. Coach Art Briles looked to three year backup Bryce Petty to step in and lead his team, and the junior lead his team to the schools first conference title and appearance in a BCS bowl game. Petty finished the season with the second best quarterback rating in the country, the most big plays, 41 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Despite not being named as a finalist for the Heisman, he is easily one of the most important college football players to his team.
What has made Briles’ offense work has been the balanced attack and the big play ability of Lache Seastrunk. The junior averaged nearly 8 yards per carry and rushed for over 1000 yards despite having only one game with 20 or more carries and missing two games. He will be key against what is considered a questionable UCF defensive line.
The Baylor offense is so prolific that if the Bear defense forces one or two turnovers, that could easily be the difference.
But Seriously: Get your six shooter out, because this is going to be a good old fashioned shoot-out. The Knights offense has had some big plays of it’s own. Remember the catch of the year from Blake Bortles to J.J. Worton against Temple?
Prediction: Baylor’s offense will be way too much for UCF’s defense and with a few properly timed defensive plays from Baylor, this game will be over by halftime. Art Briles could be coaching in his last game as the head coach at Baylor. And this could be the end of one of the most short lived impressive runs in college football.