Knights are prepared for Fiesta Bowl


Ty Wright / Valencia Voice

UCF and Baylor will meet for the first time when they face-off in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Day.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — George O’Leary and his UCF Knights have gone through their final practice in Arizona and are ready to face-off against the Baylor Bears in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on Wednesday, Jan. 1 at University of Phoenix stadium.

Both teams will be making their BCS bowl debuts on Wednesday, while also both sporting 11-1 records going into the game.

UCF, now in their 50th year, are the youngest university ever to make it to a BCS game. The program didn’t start playing in Division I until 1996.

“I think it’s very difficult to get to a BCS game.  Obviously you have to have a good football team to get there.” said UCF head coach George O’Leary during Tuesday’s final press conference before the game. “I think this year was the culmination of a lot of good things happening to the team.

“Not every game was always pretty, but every game we went out for 60 minutes, we ended up winning the game. That’s what’s important.” added O’Leary.

The Knights will go into the game with the 12th best defense in points against, giving up an average of 19.6 points a game.

“They played extremely well this entire year.” said Baylor head coach Art Briles about UCF. “I think you can look at the stats to back it up. They’re a really good football team.”

Baylor on the other hand has the nation’s top offense, averaging 53.3 points a game. The Bears offense readily relies on redshirt junior quarterback Bryce Petty, who has thrown for 3,844 yards and 30 touchdowns this season.

“I tell you what, Baylor is a very explosive offensive football team. They have some speed on defense also. said O’Leary. “The key is, I think Art does a great job of attacking defenses.”

UCF’s defense will have their hands full with Baylor on Wednesday, but the key for the Knights to stay in the game is for quarterback Blake Bortles and the offense to keep Petty and the Bears’ offense off the field.

“They’re a great offense, but they also have a great defense.” said Bortles during the Fiesta Bowl media day on Monday. “We have to stay on the field, maintain drives. We can’t go three‑and‑out. We have to continue to move the chains, put drives together, score points.”

Baylor head coach Art Briles has played against UCF in the past, going 1-1 against the Knights when he was the coach of the Houston Cougars. This will mark the first-ever meeting between Baylor and UCF.

Florida school’s are a combined 3-6 in the Fiesta Bowl, while while current American Athletic Conference teams are a combined 1-1.

The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl kicks-off at 8:30 p.m. EST and can be seen on ESPN.