Sunday, December 29, 2013

Fiesta Bowl Preview: Baylor (11-1) vs UCF (11-1)

        Ok, this is going to be good. Before you dismiss this as one of the more lopsided BCS bowls in recent memory, (I was tempted to, before I did a little research) consider this: The 15th ranked Knights (not bad, you must admit) have dropped just one game this year, and have a couple big wins over decent opponents such as Louisville and Rutgers, in a 41-17 upset. So this isn't as laughable a matchup as it might immediately seem, if one were to only look at the conferences from which the teams hail, or their histories. This is the biggest game in Knight history, and by virtue of that fact they probably deserve some respect for getting here. All that being said, a 17 point spread is telling, even on such a big stage as a BCS bowl. I won't let the suspense kill you, dear reader. I go Bears, in a shootout for the ages.

Petty will put on a show, make no mistake.
      And I do so in large part because of one young man down in Waco. Bryce Petty did not get as much national or Heisman attention as most now feel he deserved, in retrospect. He was a great player on a great team, he had great moments, and his stats were stratospheric. But New York and the players who were there is now of no concern to the Bears, whose attention can now solely lie in Arizona. This is a high powered offense, a smooth running, well oiled, perfectly drilled machine. The Mercedes Benz of college football offenses, one might say. This isn't even an arguable point by now, as with the regular season in the books the Bears scored on average a whopping 53.3 points. Unheard of, and easily good enough for first in the nation. So  while I won't declare them the best offense in college football (strength of schedule is certainly questionable) it can't be denied that they are good at scoring points. They like doing it, they do it early, often, and they do it well, even against the occasional good team. If the Bears score under 40 points in this game I will be shocked. They should be firing on all cylinders, Petty on the same page as his happy band of talented, explosive receivers, and it will make good watching. Of course that's not to mention running back Lache Seastrunk (makes the list of great running back names, one of the best I'd say) who rushed for 1,000 yards again this season and had 11 touchdowns for the Bears. He will feature prominently as well, I should imagine.

       Now UCF's defense is a major cause of concern, to be sure. Little talent and almost no spine have me thinking Baylor will score when they want to, as stated above. However, this team as well can score points. They dropped 38 on the previously vaunted Louisville defense early in the season, and they scored 41 against Rutgers. Those are two good defenses there, in fact I seem to remember ESPN wanted to crown Louisville one of the best in the country. So both those wins are statement wins, testaments to this offensive power. They are led by junior Blake Bortles, a talented young lad who is actually projected to go top 10 in the 2014 NFL draft should he forgo his senior season. How's that for no name recognition, especially as a great player? So make no mistake, this is a good, well coached offense led by an excellent quarterback. They will score a lot of points as well. Let's say under 30 would have me genuinely, sincerely shocked.
Can the Knights rise to the occasion? I suspect victory is beyond their grasp.
        They will score a lot, but it won't be enough. This one goes to the Bears, easily, but I will watch without a doubt, as this could easily be one of the highest scoring BCS bowl games in recent memory. Seriously, this might bring you back to West Virginia 70 -Clemson 33, or perhaps the less lopsided but no less exciting Boise St. 43- Oklahoma 42. It's definitely possible that this game would match, or even dare I say surpass, such ludicrous days of yore. So who doesn't want to see, as I predict, Baylor 53 UCF 38?



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