GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Baylor found itself in an awkward position all week at the Fiesta Bowl as Bears head coach Art Briles dodged rumors that he will be a candidate to replace Mack Brown at Texas.
No. 15-ranked Central Florida made sure the sixth-ranked Bears stayed uncomfortable once the football game started Wednesday night.
The Knights surged to a two-touchdown lead early in the fourth quarter and held off Baylor, 52-42, in the Fiesta Bowl at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
UCF quarterback Blake Bortles passed for 301 yards, rushed for 93 and accounted for four touchdowns to upstage Baylor counterpart Bryce Petty.
After Baylor tied the game 28-28 early in the third quarter, Bortles directed a nine-play, 76-yard touchdown drive, which he capped with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman. Bortles then ran 15 yards for a touchdown three plays into the fourth quarter to re-establish the Knights' 14-point advantage.
UCF (12-1) forced Baylor into an unfamiliar position as the Bears (11-2) had trailed only once in the second half all season, and lost that game at Oklahoma State. Petty kept firing and finished with 356 passing yards and two touchdowns.
UCF running back Storm Johnson helped close out Baylor with a 40-yard touchdown run with 10:26 left in the fourth quarter. Johnson rushed for 124 yards and three touchdowns on 20 attempts.
By defeating Baylor, UCF moved to 2-0 this season against teams ranked in the top 10. The Knights also beat then-No. 8 Louisville, 38-35, handing the Cardinals their only loss of the season. UCF's only loss came against then-No. 12 South Carolina.
UCF dominated the line of scrimmage early to take a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Johnson, who rushed for 59 yards in the first quarter, scored on runs of 11 and 2 yards to cap the Knights' first two drives. UCF ran on 10 of 11 plays on the two marches to take the initial momentum.
Baylor climbed back by creating turnovers.
Bears cornerback Demetri Goodson intercepted a long Bortles pass at the Baylor 3 to stop one Knights drive, and linebacker Eddie Lackey set up a Baylor touchdown with an interception at the UCF 32.
Baylor needed just two plays to score after Lackey's pick. Petty hit Levi Norwood over the middle, and the wide receiver evaded the UCF secondary for a 30-yard touchdown.
Bortles made up for the two interceptions with some help from wide receiver Rannell Hall. Bortles connected with Hall on a short pass near the line of scrimmage at midfield, and Hall slipped a defender and outran the Baylor defense for a 50-yard touchdown.
Hall's score boosted the Knights' lead to 21-13 with 5:05 left in the first half.
Baylor kept punching back, though. Petty answered Hall's score by running for a 13-yard touchdown, accented by a flip into the end zone when UCF defensive back Jacoby Glenn hit the diving quarterback in the legs.
Bortles then led UCF on a nine-play, 83-yard touchdown drive, capped by another catch-and-run touchdown to Hall, this one going 34 yards. The extra point gave the Knights a 28-20 halftime lead.
Bortles passed for 183 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Petty had 184 passing yards before intermission.
NOTES: UCF and Baylor both began the season unranked and went on to win their respective conferences. UCF finished 8-0 in the American Athletic, while Baylor won the Big 12 with an 8-1 mark. ... Baylor has been ranked in the top 10 for eight consecutive polls, a program record. ... UCF entered on an eight-game winning streak, the longest in program history.