When Jim Harbaugh was playing quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, long before his current job as head coach with the San Francisco 49ers, the team was known as the Cardiac Kids for big fourth-quarter comebacks.
The AAC has its own version of the Colts and Harbaugh in Central Florida and Blake Bortles. Facing an upset alert for the fourth time this season, by way of the strong arm of Bortles, a junior quarterback, UFC beat host Temple 39-36 on Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field.
Against Temple, Bortles and company got the ball back with one minute and 58 seconds left and tossed the game-tying touchdown with 0ne minute and six seconds left to J.J. Worton, on an ESPN highlight reel one-hand catch in the end zone. Temple could not respond and gave the ball back to UCF with 19 seconds left. Bortles, though, has been doing the same thing all season, hitting Rannell Hall on a 64-yard pass that set up the 24-yard field goal by Shawn Moffitt field goal as time expired.
The talk of a strong group of AAC quarterbacks this season has been Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville and rightfully so, but Bortles has worked his way into the discussion as a possible late first-round NFL draft pick. Bridgewater is ranked the overall No. 1 in a number of mock drafts because he possesses both the arm and mobility.
The reason Temple was able to give a scare into UCF was because true freshman quarterback P.J. Walker, the next great AAC quarterback, and he threw for four touchdowns while running for another. Walker, though, will have his day, but this day belonged to Bortles, a prototype NFL quarterback; a strong guy who is tough to bring down at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds and has what is known to the experts as functional mobility in the pocket. That served Bortles well in the comeback at Temple, as he shook off tackles four times to make plays in the passing game downfield, including a nice pass down the seam that set up the game-winning field goal with two seconds left.
Those are all qualities that appeal to the NFL, but none more than the fact that Bortles has never lost in an AAC game.
Mike Gibson, an Associated Press Sports Editors’ Association and Keystone Press Association award-winner for Best Sports Story and Best Sports Feature, is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @papreps , “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.