The UCF Knights have done what others could not this season: Finish the year without a loss. The Knights defeated the SEC’s Auburn Tigers on New Year’s Day in Atlanta, capping their historic year with a Peach Bowl victory.
The Knights won 34-27 over Auburn. They jumped out to an early 13-3 lead in the second quarter, and went into the half up 13-6. The Tigers retaliated with two scores, one on a Will Hastings touchdown reception and the other on a Kerryon Johnson run. McKenzie Milton then found Otis Anderson for the game-tying score, and Milton then threw a dart to Dredrick Snelson to put UCF ahead again.
Late in the 4th quarter, Auburn was driving, until Jarrett Stidham threw an errant pass into the hands of Chequan Burkett. Burkett ran it back 45 yards to put UCF up two scores. Although Auburn’s Eli Stove found the end zone again, Stidham threw another wild pass into the end zone late in the game, leading to yet another pick, which sealed it up.
Milton threw for 242 yards against Auburn’s vaunted defense and also ran for 116. He had three total touchdowns, two coming through the air and one on the ground. Stidham, meanwhile, threw for 331 yards on 43 attempts, but had just one touchdown and two interceptions. Kerryon ran for 71 yards on 22 carries, but Auburn couldn’t muster up 100 total yards on the ground. They were held to 90 on 44 rushing attempts.
The story out of this game will, of course, be about UCF. And it should be. This season was a dream year for the Knights, and Scott Frost sure as hell went out on a high note. The Knights should be one of the best G5 teams again next season with Josh Heupel as head coach, but they’ll never forget the 2017-18 season.
As for Auburn, well, the year definitely ended sourly. But there’s still a lot to like going into next season. Even though the backfield should look different, the Tigers have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. It didn’t end the way they wanted it to, coincidentally in Atlanta two times in a row, but this was still a successful season on the Plains.