It was bad for the Knights. But, mercifully, the slog to 0-and-12 reached its end as USF crushed UCF in a mostly empty stadium on Thanksgiving night.
When we previewed the game, we asked whether who would have more yards: USF's Marlon Mack (the overwhelming favorite), USF's Quinton Flowers (who got a substantial number of votes) or the entire UCF offense (sigh). It turns out that the smart money was on Quinton Flowers, who ended with 264 total yards (and that was with Steven Bench coming in during garbage time). UCF mustered a mere 203.
As was the case last week against ECU, UCF opened with a decent drive that proved to be about the only functional drive of the The Bulls closed out their season with a huge win over rival UCF, capping their second half surge. Surprising no one, the Knights staggered to the end of their winless season. night. QB Justin Holman looked strong initially, including connecting with redshirt freshman Tre'quan Smith on a beautiful pass. And on fourth and seven, Smith had a beautiful diving catch to extend drive deep into USF territory. But the Knights couldn't score a touchdown, ultimately settling for the field goal by Matthew Wright.
It was all USF from there.
The Bulls responded with a drive in which they easily carved up the Knights, especially with USF QB Quinton Flowers making excellent choices on the zone read. The drive appeared to be blunted with an illegal touching penalty by USF, Flowers getting stuffed, and an incomplete pass. But of course this was the UCF defense. On fourth and eight, Flowers threw a twenty-eight yard pass and followed that with a touchdown pass to Barr.
The Knights promptly went three and out, though the defense followed by forcing USF to punt (helped quite a bit by USF penalties). UCF bookended that decent stand with another three and out, however, and the Bulls returned to form on the next drive, which features some great runs out of the diamond formation. Flowers would add his second touchdown pass of the night to put the Bulls up 14-3.
After a brief flirtation with moving the ball, the UCF offense again flopped badly. On third down Holman threw a pick over the middle. USF again tore through the uninspired Knights defense and Quinton Flowers added a touchdown on the ground.
On the next drive, Smith had - again - a highlight reel catch in which he went up for the ball, got hit, flipped head over feet, and somehow held on to the ball:
The drive stalled subsequently, of course. But Smith's play was the lone bright spot for the Knights and ended with seven catches for 102 yards (making him the only Knight with multiple catches on the evening).
The Bulls poured it on after that. USF made good use of the time remaining on the clock and ended the half by tacking on a field goal.
Things looked no better for the Knights in the second half. Flowers added his second rushing touchdown on the opening drive of the half. And after UCF turned it over on downs, Flowers threw a twenty-six yard touchdown pass to Price. The Bulls would also add a pair of field goals.
With the easy win, the Bulls' hopes to win the AAC East remain alive. If Temple stumbles, USF will have a berth in the AAC Championship Game.