The Fiesta Bowl may not be getting a lot of national media hype, but the potential for it to be an old-school barnburner is there. Baylor's offense ranked No. 1 in the nation this past season scoring more than 53 points per game, while UCF averaged just over 33 a game with a future NFL quarterback in Blake Bortles and a talented running back in Storm Johnson.
Our Daily Bears took a deeper look at the Knights. Even with UCF not playing a difficult schedule this season, they're still a very dangerous team regardless.
Junior Blake Bortles, about whom I wrote last week, is one of the best QBs in the country and the owner of the 9th-best passer rating in the NCAA this season at 163.3, about 16 points behind our own Bryce Petty. He has quality receivers in Rannell Hall, Breshad Perriman, and J.J. Worton, the three of whom combined for over 2,000 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns on the year. He also has a very good RB in Storm Johnson, who some compare to Glasco Martin despite the fact that Glasco hates it. Johnson and William Stanback power what S&P+ calls the 10th best rushing attack in the country, so we'd better be ready to see quite a bit of him.
On the whole, F/+ bills this as a matchup between the #7 (Baylor) and #24 (UCF) teams in the country at this point. If that #24 ranking is correct, that makes UCF the second-best team we've played this season, just ahead of #27 Kansas State. As I said above, UCF's offense is ranked much more highly than their defense at #14, and they are especially good on passing downs (#6) vs. standard downs (#25).
While the Bears were holding out hope that middle linebacker Bryce Hager could be back in time to play in the Fiesta Bowl, it seems like that's no longer the case. Hager is dealing with a groin injury that has bothered him for more than a month.
Apparently, Hager suffered some kind of setback in his rehabilitation from a groin injury that flared up in Baylor's November 16 game against Texas Tech, and he is now listed at doubtful for next Wednesday's game. [...]
I don't think this is something to be seriously upset about, although I am, for obvious reasons, disappointed. With all due respect to Lackey and his performance in relief this season, Hager at MLB and Lackey at OLB is our best defensive alignment, particularly against the pass. UCF's offense, like our own, does not really utilize tight ends (only 15 receptions by players listed as such on the roster this year), but they do throw to the running backs coming out of the backfield. Storm Johnson has 29 receptions on the year for over 250 yards while William Stanback has 13 for just over 150. Should they get a matchup somewhere with Trahan covering a running back, that would probably not be ideal for us.
Despite Baylor and UCF never making a BCS bowl game until now, the demand for tickets is not very high at all.
Baylor and UCF both fell short of selling out their 17,500-ticket allotments to the 2014 Fiesta Bowl. The Bears are returning about 5,000 tickets, according to the Waco Tribune, while the Knights are returning approximately 10,000, per the Orlando Sentinel.
UCF officials said several weeks ago that they would need to sell 13,000 tickets to break even on the trip, and that's despite a $2.4 million bowl allowance from the AAC to help cover costs. Fiesta Bowl ticket prices aside, the cost of round-trip plane tickets -- more than $700 in some cases -- is no doubt a factor keeping sales low.
On secondary ticket marketplaces, fans can pick up a cheap seat for about $15. Want to sit on the 50-yard line? Those will only run you about $130 or so, depending on when you buy them. About six hours west in Pasadena, the cheapest Rose Bowl ticket will run about $400. And that's just to get inside the stadium. Good seats are going for $1,000+.