Fiesta Bowl – Central Florida Knights vs Baylor Bears
Date and Time: Wednesday 1/1/14 at 8:30pm on ESPN
Game Line: Baylor -16.5 (from JustBet)
Wednesday’s Fiesta Bowl NCAA Football Analysis: Two teams ending the best seasons of their respective teams history will face off in the Fiesta Bowl this season. Without question, outstanding quarterback play has been the biggest reason for these two up and coming teams. In what most feel is the best quarterback match up of the bowl season, Bryce Petty leads Baylor and the nation’s best offense against Blake Bortles and Central Florida. This is the first BCS Bowl game for both teams after both earned conference titles. The Bears’ hopes for a national championship were dashed with a lopsided loss to Oklahoma State in November but they rebounded to win their next two games. A 30-10 victory over Texas in the regular-season finale gave Baylor 11 wins for the first time and the Big 12 crown. This is also uncharted territory for UCF, which wrapped up a BCS bid with Louisville’s win over Cincinnati on Dec. 5 and added the inaugural American Athletic Conference title by holding off SMU 17-13 in an ice storm two days later. Central Florida’s coach O’Leary becomes the latest coach trying to find a way to slow Baylor’s nearly point per minute offense. That unit scored a nation-best 53.3 points per game and averaged 624 yards — both just shy of setting NCAA records. Bortles may have flown under the radar some at UCF, but his name has been rocketing up most draft boards lately, a potential top ten NFL pick. The AAC Offensive Player of the Year had the best performance of his career with a 404 yard, four touchdown game in a 39-36 win over Temple in November. Bortles will have little chance to keep up with Petty if his line doesn’t do a better job protecting him. He was sacked just seven times in his first seven games but went on to be taken down 14 times in his final five. Baylor is a better balanced team with a better defense, but the extra preparation time and public perception of Baylor as an elite team has this line a little higher than it belongs. Central Florida has been a cash making machine all season and getting nearly three scores in this game, which figures to be a shootout, is a gift.
Central Florida vs Baylor NCAA Football Picks: Central Florida +16.5 and over 73.5
Central Florida vs Baylor Game Prediction: 49-41 Baylor
What to expect in the 2013 Fiesta Bowl: If you like watching teams score points, this is a game for you. There will be no shortage of big plays, points and teams marching up and down the field from start to finish. Central Florida will shock everyone by keeping pace with the Baylor offense from start to finish as Bortles will finalize his place in the top ten of the NFL draft with an elite performace against high level competition like Baylor. Central Florida isn’t seventeen points worse than any team in the country and they will score with Baylor in this one and keep it close.