No. 17 BYU, Central Florida meet in Boca Raton Bowl
BYU had little time to savor the flavor of a victory in its regular-season finale before learning the destination of its next game.
The 17th-ranked Cougars (10-1) will visit the Sunshine State on Tuesday to face Central Florida (6-3) in the Boca Raton Bowl at FAU Stadium.
“I was just really ecstatic about that and just really excited about another chance to play with my team,” BYU linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi said, per the Salt Lake Tribune. “… It’ll be fun to travel out to Florida and have some warmer weather, a lot warmer than last weekend.
“The team is really excited to play, prove ourselves again and be able to work and fix some of the things we have been lacking the last couple of weeks.”
The Cougars answered a 22-17 setback at undefeated Coastal Carolina on Dec. 5 with a 28-14 victory over San Diego State on Saturday. Zach Wilson threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns in the latter contest to help BYU secure its first 10-win season since 2011.
“It’s going to be warm and it’s just another opportunity — I think that’s the best thing that we can have,” Wilson said, per the Salt Lake Tribune. “What a great team we’re going against as well, it’s going to be an explosive offense we’re against on the other side. We’re going to have everything put together to play well against these guys. They’re a good team.”
Wilson wasn’t kidding about the offense of the Knights, who rank second in the nation in total offense (585.6 yards) and passing (373) and sixth in points per game (44.3). UCF outdid that last number in its last outing, a 58-46 victory over South Florida on Nov. 27.
Like Wilson, Knights quarterback Dillon Gabriel is a finalist for the Manning Award. Gabriel leads the nation with 3,353 passing yards and is second nationally with 30 touchdown passes.
Gabriel has added motivation for this game, and he didn’t have to look far to find it. His father, Garrett, previously played for Hawaii and engaged in a memorable battle against Ty Detmer and BYU back in his day.
“It’s almost funny because he had a chance to play them and now me. I’m super-excited for the opportunity,” Gabriel said, per the Orlando Sentinel.
With Marlon Williams (team-leading 71 catches for 1,039 yards and 10 touchdowns) opting out of the bowl game and declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft, UCF will lean on wideouts Jaylon Robinson (51 catches, 935 yards, five touchdowns) and Jacob Harris (seven touchdowns).
Greg McCrae leads the Knights in carries (131), rushing yards (681) and rushing touchdowns (nine). He found the end zone in every game but one this season.
While UCF boasts a potent offense, BYU’s defense isn’t too shabby. The Cougars have allowed an average of 14.6 points per game this season.
“Our players and staff are excited to be in this bowl game,” UCF coach Josh Heupel said. “It gives our guys one more time to play together and gives us one more chance to go 1-0. We’ve done a lot of good things this year, and we look forward to this next opportunity.”
The Knights will need to keep tabs on the Cougars’ rushing attack. Lopini Katoa amassed 130 all-purpose yards against San Diego State in place of injured Tyler Allgeier, who leads BYU in carries (131), rushing yards (957) and touchdowns (12).
–Field Level Media