Every Thursday throughout the summer, Knight Sports Now has been taking a look at UCF Football’s best game in each of their years competing at the FBS level as part of a Throwback Thursday series. As we hit the final stretch, we’ll be turning back the clock every day leading up to the 2018 season. Today, we continue with 2012.
UCF Football’s Best Game of 2012: 38-17 win vs. Ball State (Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl)
UCF’s first three bowl trips ended in disappointment, but its next three were much more successful. The Knights’ first bowl win came against Georgia in the 2010 Liberty Bowl. The second in their string of three straight postseason victories came in the 2012 Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl. After a strong 9-3 regular season, UCF lost the Conference USA Championship Game, falling to Tulsa 33-27 in overtime.
The loss sent George O’Leary and his team to St. Petersburg for the second time since 2009. The second trip to Tropicana Field ended on a happier note, with the Knights beating Ball State 38-17 to cap off their third 10-win season since 2007 (and ever).
The late-December matchup was dominated by quarterback Blake Bortles, who went on to have a monster 2013 season before getting drafted No. 3 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. UCF started fast, taking a 13-0 lead in the first quarter. Bortles hit Latavius Murray for a seven-yard touchdown, then Murray punched one in from two yards out a few minutes later.
The Cardinals responded with a touchdown early in the second quarter, but Bortles came right back with a six-yard touchdown run and another scoring pass to Murray. By halftime, the Knights led 28-7. From there, Ball State failed to get back in the game. A field goal cut the deficit to 28-10, but Bortles responded by finding J.J. Worton in the end zone from seven yards out to extend the UCF lead to 25.
Shawn Moffitt added a field goal in the fourth quarter to get the Knights to a 38-10 lead. Ball State scored a late touchdown, but never threatened to come back.
Bortles completed 22 of his 33 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns while adding 80 yards and a score on the ground. Murray ran for 71 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. He also caught six passes for 33 yards and two scores. Clayton Geathers racked up 10 tackles and Thomas Niles added 3 1/2 tackles for loss.
Compared to what unfolded in 2013, a victory over Ball State in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl doesn’t seem all that exciting, but it gave the Knights another 10-win season in an impressive run of success. It was the third of what would soon be four 10-win seasons in seven years. Plus, it continued to set the table for what would be a legacy-defining year for Bortles. That surely makes it significant enough to be Knight Sports Now’s pick for UCF’s best game of 2012. Highlights from the bowl victory can be found below:
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