Central Florida got a scare on Friday night from two-win South Florida, but a late 52-yard touchdown strike from Blake Bortles to Breshad Perriman ensured the Knights would remain squarely in the hunt to reach a BCS bowl game this season. UCF defeated South Florida, 23-20.
UCF came out sloppy and appeared to have overlooked the Bulls a bit, falling behind by a field goal early in the second quarter. They did seem to get their footing after that and led 13-6 at halftime despite three turnovers (which ballooned to five for the game). The Bulls didn't go away and outscored the Knights 14-3 to lead 20-16 with less than five minutes remaining in the game. Bortles, who has played really well all season long, stepped up under pressure, though, and found Perriman streaking wide open down the sidelines to give UCF a 23-20 advantage with 4:50 to go.
Mike White and USF had one final chance to pull the upset, but an errant throw was intercepted by Jordan Ozerities to end the threat. The win pushed UCF to 10-1 on the season, with their lone loss coming to a top-10 team in South Carolina. They clinched at least a share of the AAC title.
Box Score Hero:
Blake Bortles: 17/26, 219 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT
Storm Johnson: 10 carries, 62 yards, 2 fumbles
Marcus Shaw: 21 carries, 67 yards, 1 TD
Rankings Ramifications: While it certainly wasn't a pretty win, it's still a win for the Knights. They may drop a spot or two in the BCS, they're just about guaranteed a spot in a BCS bowl game; even if they lose to SMU next week and Cincinnati defeats Louisville, the BCS standings would determine the American champion. The Knights are way ahead of the Bearcats in that regard, so there really wouldn't be any doubt about who represents the conference come January.
But Did They Cover? UCF came in as a 26-point favorite, so they obviously failed to cover the spread by a lot.
For More On This Game: For more on this game, visit South Florida community Voodoo Five.
Next Week's Schedule: Next up for UCF is a very winnable game against SMU. If they're able to win that one, the Sugar Bowl seems like a likely postseason destination.