Although the UCF Knights came into the Fiesta Bowl as huge underdogs to the offensively-minded Baylor Bears, quarterback Blake Bortles put in one of his best performances of the 2013 season and led his team to an impressive bowl victory. Known as a pocket passer with high upside and a rocket arm, Bortles surprised everyone by showing his versatility, rushing for 93 yards and scoring most important touchdown of the game.
Bortles showcased his running ability and elusiveness on read-option plays early in the game, but his most important run of the evening was a 15-yard scamper that gave the Knights a 14-point lead with just 13 minutes remaining. Even though Baylor is known for its uptempo offense, the Knights’ defense was able to somewhat contain them for the rest of the game, securing the 52-42 victory.
Despite finishing the game with two interceptions, Bortles was able to make a few impressive throws on the night, which led to him totaling 301 passing yards and four total touchdowns. Many were hoping for a shootout between Bortles and Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, and from the 94 points scored, you can bet that nobody left disappointed.
After compiling almost 400 yards of total offense in his biggest game of the year, Bortles must now make a decision that’s harder than the average pre-snap read. He’s projected by many as a first-round talent in the upcoming NFL Draft, but the redshirt junior is coming off his school’s first BCS victory and may be tempted to return to school to not only improve his game, but to add more victories and trophies to his resume.
While Bortles’ decision on whether or not to enter the upcoming draft will affect his immediate future, scouts saw first-hand on Wednesday night that he’s much more than a pocket passer and has an underrated amount of athleticism, making him an even more desirable prospect. It wasn’t a foregone conclusion that UCF would win the Fiesta Bowl, but it was clear from the start that if they were, it would be Bortles leading them.