Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Az.
Jan. 1, 2014
Baylor vs. Central Florida
An early look at the matchup: We'll go ahead and ask it. How much of a mismatch really is this game? Baylor's high-flying offense has gotten accolades all season, though it was slowed against Oklahoma State and sputtered a bit against Texas in two of the Bears' last three games. Central Florida won an extremely weak American Athletic Conference by running the table and seven of its 11 wins came by seven points or less.
Central Florida's only loss of the season came at home to South Carolina, a team that it led for most of the game before the Gamecocks came back in the fourth quarter. Baylor's was in a 49-17 shellacking in Stillwater, OK, against Oklahoma State in a game that nothing went right for the Bears.
And to answer the question we posed two graphs earlier, no, it's not. The line and all early Vegas money will likely skew heavily towards Baylor given the attraction of dynamic offenses. And George O'Leary against Baylor's Art Briles is a fantastic matchup of minds, especially with a month to prepare. Both of these defenses are pretty good too, and while we're going to talk about the other side of the ball next, this shouldn't turn into a 65-55 shootout either.
What we like about this game: This could be the best quarterback matchup of all of the BCS games. Yes, maybe even better than Nick Marshall versus Jameis Winston and better than Tajh Boyd versus Braxton Miller. Baylor's Bryce Petty got some Heisman talk earlier this season before the Bears fell to OSU and Central Florida's Blake Bortles is a sleeper first round draft candidate if he decides to declare for the NFL after this season, though he's not very well-known outside college football die-hards.
Petty is 220-356 for 3,844 yards and 30 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Bortles is 239-351 for 3,280 yards, 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
This game could be for Bortles what the Sugar Bowl was like for Louisville and Teddy Bridgewater last season.
Something you might not have known: Not only are both Baylor and Central Florida first-time BCS teams, it's Central Florida's first New Year's Day (or after) bowl appearance ever, and it's the first time that Baylor has played on New Year's Day since 1981 and it's only the sixth time overall. And what do you know, this is Central Florida's sixth bowl appearance since the program was started in 1979.
Plus, it's only the second time that UCF has been to a bowl game in back-to-back years and it's the first time that Baylor has been to a bowl for four consecutive years.
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