Stacey Mickles

Fiesta Bowl Primer: Baylor vs. Central Florida

Created on Dec. 31, 2013 2:08 PM EST

The BCS gave us some classic championships, like Ohio State-Miami and Texas-USC. But some of its most potent moments involved upsets by teams outside of major conferences: TCU over Wisconsin in the 2011 Rose Bowl and Boise State over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

This game got flagged as one of, if not the, biggest mismatch as soon as ESPN announced the bowl pairings. Can the BCS give us one more classic underdog on its way out?

If not, this game still should prove entertaining, as Baylor's offense is fun to watch no matter the score and UCF has a couple of offensive stars that could become starters on Sundays.

The American Athletic Conference already gave us Teddy Bridgewater vs. Stephen Morris. Blake Bortles vs. Bryce Petty doesn't come with the same hype, but the quarterbacks are at least as intriguing.


Motivation: Baylor knows it could have been playing for a national championship had it not lost to Oklahoma State. Art Briles' team bounced back against Texas to win the Big 12, but they still have lots to prove; mainly that they deserve their BCS berth.  

If You've Never Seen Them: The Bears mowed down everyone in the Big 12 this year. They have a high-octane offense that is dangerous when they are on a roll. Balance? What's that? They will throw it all over the field and dare their opponents to stop them, though they are capable of running the ball as well.  

Weakness: If there is a weakness to this team, it's the defense. A much-improved group, Baylor's defense gave up a few points here and there, but its offense usually outscores opponents, so it was barely noticeable throughout the season.   

Central Florida  

Motivation: This is UCF's first and last BCS game. They were one of the BCS busters earlier this season. Like Baylor, they want to prove that their season wasn't a fluke and they belong in this game with the big boys.  

If You've Never Seen Them: The Knights knocked off Teddy Bridgewater and Louisville earlier in the season. They also came close to beating SEC powerhouse South Carolina. This isn't your father's UCF team. They are a tough opponent. Bortles is emerging as a trendy first-round pick and running back Storm Johnson was huge in the biggest games, producing three of his four 100-yard performances in three or five-point wins against Penn State, Louisville and Houston.

Weakness: The UCF defense has a tendency to to give up the big play. In their win over Louisville, they got behind early because of it. They lost the South Carolina game because their defense was burned by big plays; Baylor is a big-play offense.   

Las Vegas Hilton Line: Baylor -16.5.

FBS Senior Editor Christopher Smith contributed to this story.

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