The UCF Knights beat the Auburn Tigers 34-27 in this year’s Peach Bowl from Atlanta on New Year’s Day in a thrilling game on Monday afternoon.
With less than 30 seconds left, Auburn had the ball deep in UCF territory, but on 1st down, UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin pressured Jarrett Stidham, and he threw a pick in the end zone to give the Knights the victory.
With the win, UCF finishes with a program-best 13-0 record, and a huge way to finish now-Nebraska coach Scott Frost’s career in Orlando. Auburn finishes the season 10-5.
This was a running diary of the game, with highlights mixed in:
00:24, UCF 34, Auburn 27
UCF picks off Jarrett Stidham in the end zone! Knights have 24 seconds to victory.
00:40, UCF 34, Auburn 27
The Tigers have first down on UCF’s 21 yard line with a chance to tie things up here.
1:24 UCF 34, Auburn 27
Auburn gets a clutch conversion on fourth down, and the Tigers are now at midfield.
2:18, UCF 34, Auburn 27
UCF’s 37-yard field goal attempt is juuuust off the mark. The Tigers get the ball back a good chunk of time left.
2:33, UCF 34, Auburn 27
UCF gets a nice drive going, but a costly below the waist penalty may have stalled the Knights here. Big 3rd and 9 coming up.
4:12, UCF 34, Auburn 27
A seven-yard touchdown run from Eli Stove gives the Tigers new life heading late into the fourth quarter.
5:15 UCF 34, Auburn 20
Auburn is deep in UCF territory and is threatening to score here.
5:56, UCF 33, Auburn 20
UCF gets a pick-six off of Jarrett Stidham to go up 13!
6:58, UCF 27, Auburn 20
UCF attempts a 25-yard field goal, and it’s blocked by Auburn and downed in the end zone!
11:36, UCF 27, Auburn 20
One heck of a touchdown pass from UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton, who finds Dredrick Snelson for an eight-yard strike.
13:09, Auburn 20, UCF 20
UCF has the ball back and a chance to take the lead here.
End of 3rd quarter
Auburn 20, UCF 20
Knights linebacker Shaquem Griffin makes a couple of huge stops, including a Jarrett Stidham sack on 3rd down to give the Knights the ball back.
1:30 Auburn 20, UCF 20
A 12-yard touchdown pass from McKenzie Milton to Otis Andrerson for the Knights to tie things up!
5:53, Auburn 20, UCF 13
On 3rd and 7, McKenzie Milton throws an incompletion that was nearly intercepted. UCF to punt.
7:55, Auburn 20, UCF 13
Auburn gets the lead with a four-yard touchdown drive from Kerryon Johnson. Nice 10-play scoring drive for the Tigers.
10:29, UCF 13, Auburn 13
UCF punts the ball away on its first possession of the second half and Auburn with a chance to take a lead here.
14:05, UCF 13, Auburn 13
All tied up after a Jarrett Stidham with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Will Hastings. It was reviewed to see if there was UCF targeting, but after review it was overturned.
Auburn makes the the extra point to tie it up at 13.
The Knights lead the Tigers 13-6 at halftime.
00:07, UCF 13, Auburn 6
UCF kicker Matthew Wright nails a 45-yard field goal to take a 13-6 lead. Scott Frost was smart to take a timeout on defense to save some time on the Knights’ final drive.
00:45, UCF 10, Auburn 6
Daniel Carlson makes a 47-yard field goal to pull within four points.
00:45, UCF 10, Auburn 3
Jarrett Stidham gets sacked on third down, the Knights’ defense fifth of the day. Tigers will try for a field goal
4:00, UCF 10, Auburn 3
On 3rd and 1, Kerryon Johnson keeps it and the refs rule it a first down. It’s reviewed and the call stands, so Auburn continues its drive.
5:08, UCF 10, Auburn 3
UCF gets a nice drive going, but on 3rd and 10 McKenzie Milton overthrows his receiver who would’ve scored a touchdown on the play.
8:51, UCF 10, Auburn 3
The Knights capitalize on the fumble recovery with a 23-yard touchdown run from McKenzie Milton.
9:38, Auburn 3, UCF 3
UCF forces a Jarrett Stidham fumble and recovers it! Tre Neal returns it for 36 yards to get inside the red zone again.
11:11, Auburn 3, UCF 3
We’re all tied up at three after Knights kicker Matthew Wright makes a 33-yard field goal.
11:16, Auburn 3, UCF 0
The Knights are in the red zone, but McKenzie Milton has to throw it away on third down. Field goal coming up for the Knights.
12:55, Auburn 3, UCF 0
The Knights offense has a rhythm, and McKenzie Milton throws a first down pass to get inside Auburn territory.
14:15, Auburn 3, UCF 0
Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson misses a 53-yard kick to keep it a 3-0 game.
:00, Auburn 3, UCF 0
Jarrett Stidham is having some real trouble with his footing on the Mercedes-Benz field surface — he’s slipped down twice behind the line of scrimmage.
2:36, Auburn 3, UCF 0
On 3rd and 12, Auburn gets flagged for a false start, but Jarrett Stidham finds Darius Slayton for a 24-yard throw and a 1st down.
6:04, Auburn 3, UCF 0
UCF pins Auburn deep in their own territory thanks to a muffed punt from Stephen Roberts.
6:30, Auburn 3, UCF 0
McKenzie Milton gets his first pass completion of the day halfway through the first quarter. Rough start for the Knights’ QB.
7:06, Auburn 3, UCF 0
The Tigers capitalize on the UCF turnover with a 25-yard field goal to get the first lead of the day.
10:52, UCF 0, Auburn 0
Knights quarterback McKenzie Milton fumbles to give Auburn the ball back at midfield.
11:16, UCF 0, Auburn 0
The Knights are in Auburn territory on their second drive of the day. We’ll see if UCF can strike first.
13:43, UCF 0, Auburn 0
The Knights got the ball first, and went three-and-out on their first drive.
The Auburn Tigers rebounded from a 5-2 start to rally all the way to an SEC West title. On New Year’s Day, they will face one of the few teams in the country that knows more about hot streaks when they face the 12-0 UCF Knights in the Peach Bowl. That game kicks off at 12:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ESPN (live stream).
The Tigers could have fallen apart after surrendering a 20-0 lead in an October loss to LSU, but instead rebounded with five straight wins — two over No. 1 ranked teams (Georgia and Alabama) — to run to the SEC Championship Game. While Auburn’s conference title hopes died that weekend, UCF’s thrived. The Knights kept their hopes of an undefeated season alive by knocking off Memphis for the American Athletic Conference championship, setting up Monday’s battle in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Time, TV channel, and streaming info
- Time: 12:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
- TV: ESPN
- Streaming: WatchESPN
- Odds: Auburn is favored by 7.5 points
UCF vs. Auburn news:
- The Knights lost their head coach when Scott Frost returned home to Nebraska. Here’s what he’s bringing to the Big Ten.
Frost had a direct hand in one of the best offensive runs by any program in this era when he was a receivers coach and then the offensive coordinator at Oregon from 2009 to 2015. The latter three years, when Frost was in charge, Oregon was fourth, fourth, and fifth in the country in scoring offense.
When he took over UCF in 2016, the Knights bounced from 126th out of 128 teams in scoring offense to 66th. And this year, they’re No. 1. They just put up 62 on Memphis in an AAC title game for the ages, with Frost on his way out the door.
- Since it’s still the holiday season, here’s the Auburn defense singing “Silent Night.”
- Here’s everything the Auburn defense needs to know about stopping UCF’s game-changing quarterback McKenzie Milton.
249-360 (69.2%), 3795 yards, 35 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, 184.8 quarterback rating.
That’s pretty good no matter who you’re playing against. He can run a little bit too.
93 carries, 497 yards, 5.3 yards per carry, 7 touchdowns.
What’s interesting is that the later we got in the season we saw that Milton ran more and more. Over the first six games, he had double-digit carries in two of those contests, but over the last half of the season, he had four double-digit carry games. That includes the crazy wins over USF and Memphis over the last two games, where he put up nearly 1,000 yards of offense in those two combined.
Will Kerryon Johnson be healthy enough to make a difference?
Johnson has been one of the SEC’s most effective weapons this fall, but an injury suffered in the Iron Bowl severely hampered his production in the conference championship. The dynamic tailback ran for just 44 yards in Auburn’s loss to Georgia, but he’s had nearly a month to get healthy and back to full strength. If he’s even 80 percent, that’s bad news for a UCF team that ranks just 67th in the FBS in rushing defense.
UCF vs. Auburn prediction:
The Tigers have beaten two of the four members of 2017’s College Football Playoff. That’s just too much for the best UCF team in program history to compete with.
Be sure to check out all our bowl predictions here.