For the UCF Knights, make it eight wins a row. Make it an outright AAC title. Make it the first trip to a BCS Bowl Game in school history. All of these achievements were secured Saturday afternoon as quarterback Blake Bortles and his teammates held off a gritty upset effort from the SMU Mustangs en route to a 17-13 victory in surprisingly frigid Dallas, Texas.
Bortles has increasingly gained attention on a national scale during UCF’s run to an 11-1 record and a conference championship. This weekend’s performance should only continue that trend. The junior signal caller completed 24-of-35 pass attempts for 229 yards while rushing for another 36 and crossing the goal line twice on the ground.
In support of Bortles, running back Storm Johnson ran for 37 yards on 11 carries and had three catches for 39 yards. While this was certainly not his strongest effort of the year, the redshirt junior attained a personal achievement that should not go overlooked. To go along with 14 total touchdowns, Johnson now sits at 1,015 rushing yards for the season.
Back in August, before the season even got underway, the AAC crown was overwhelmingly expected to go the way of QB Teddy Bridgewater and the Louisville Cardinals. Well that prediction failed to take the talent and potential of head Ccoach George O’Leary’s Knights into account. About a month from now, UCF will have an opportunity to really make a statement and firmly place themselves on the college football map.