After starting the season red-hot with a 9-0 record, the Baylor Bears then lost a heartbreaker to the Oklahoma State Cowboys to end their hopes for a national title. Although they did win their first ever Big 12 conference title, the Bears were hoping for a national title and that might not be too far away.
On the other side of the field, the Central Florida Knights have been one of the most surprising teams in the nation this season by taking down the talented Louisville Cardinals to earlier in the season that led to their American Athletic Conference crown.
Baylor has one of the most explosive offenses in the nation, ranking first in the country in points per game, fifth in passing yards per game and 12th in rushing yards per contest. Bryce Petty has already mentioned that he’d be coming back for the 2014 season and that’s good news for one of the best offenses out there to get their talented quarterback back. Petty has passed for 3,844 yards and 30 touchdowns on the year for the Bears while hitting Antwan Goodley 67 times for 1,319 yards and 13 touchdowns. Lache Seastrunk is a Heisman-caliber running back with 1,060 yards and 11 touchdowns on over seven yards per carry.
Central Florida has a solid passing offense of its own behind the strong, reliable arm of Blake Bortles. In his junior season, Bortles has asserted himself as one of top quarterbacks in the nation and one of the top draft prospects for 2014. The junior has passed for 3,280 yards and 22 touchdowns on the year with his two favorite targets being Rannell Hall and Breshad Perriman. Hall has caught 53 passes for 773 yards and three scores while Perriman has caught 36 passes for 763 yards and three touchdowns. Storm Johnson leads the rushing attack with 1,015 yards and 11 touchdowns on 5.3 yards per carry.
Defensively, the Knights have had one of the best units in the nation. Central Florida ranks 13th in the nation in points against while also ranking 17th in yards against. Baylor has also been solid on defense this season, ranking 19th in points against as well as 22nd in yards allowed.
Central Florida will take on Baylor in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix, Ariz., at 8:30 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Jan. 1. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN.
PREDICTION: Baylor 38, Central Florida 20
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.