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 2013.
UCF Football’s Best Game of 2013: 52-42 win vs. No. 6 Baylor (Tostitos Fiesta Bowl)
2013 was UCF Football’s biggest season to date. The Knights had joined the American Athletic Conference and returned a high level of talent from the year before. They won their first three games of the season, with the third being a marquee 34-31 road win at Penn State. The following week, the second-largest home crowd in UCF history came out to see a big-time matchup against No. 12 South Carolina. The Knights fell short, 28-25, but still had a lot left to play for the rest of the year.
After a thrilling win at Memphis, UCF put together a huge 38-35 comeback victory at No. 8 Louisville to put itself in the driver’s seat for the conference’s automatic BCS bowl bid. The team then survived a couple of scares the rest of the way, notably against Houston, Temple and South Florida, to win the conference and clinch a spot in the Fiesta Bowl. Overall, the Knights won their final eight regular season games.
The bowl matchup didn’t appear to be a favorable one for UCF. No. 6 Baylor came in at 11-1 and was a 17-point favorite in the game. That didn’t matter to Blake Bortles and his team, as they came out and pulled off the upset by a score of 52-42.
The Knights came out and pushed the Bears around early. Storm Johnson ran for a pair of touchdowns early in the first quarter to put UCF up 14-0. Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty countered with a one-yard touchdown run, but the UCF offense couldn’t be stopped all night. After having the lead cut to 14-13, Bortles found Rannell Hall for a 50-yard touchdown pass. The back-and-forth continued in the second quarter until Bortles and Hall connected again, this time from 34 yards out, to make it 28-20 at halftime.
The Bears tied it early in the third, but failed to take the lead at any point. Bortles and Breshad Perriman linked up for a 10-yard touchdown, then Bortles scored on a 15-yard run to put the Knights up 42-28 early in the fourth quarter. Baylor tried to come back, but the UCF offense always had an answer. A 10-0 run later in the fourth, sparked by a 40-yard touchdown run by Johnson, sealed the deal.
Bortles completed 20 of his 31 passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns to two interceptions, while Johnson ran for 124 yards and three scores.
The victory was the biggest in program history (at the time) and the first-ever over a Big 12 opponent. It made UCF the youngest program to win a BCS bowl game and allowed the Knights to finish No. 10 in the AP Poll and No. 12 in the Coaches Poll, which were their highest finishes ever (at the time).
The comeback victory over Louisville was a huge tone-setter for the rest of the season. In any other season, it could have been the best game for the Knights. But the win over Baylor out in Arizona was definitely the best game of the 2013 season for UCF. The full game broadcast can be seen below:
For previous Throwback Thursdays from Knight Sports Now, click here.