Where do we begin? What can you say other than this game was everything you could ask for? I won’t make this long, as the game speaks for itself. Drama, lead changes, and thrilling plays highlighted Saturday’s AAC Championship game. UCF held on for a 62-55 double overtime win over Memphis, and both teams deserve to be commended for their performances.
UCF started off the game quickly, but Memphis always had an answer until the end. Both teams laid everything on the line throughout the game, and fans who watched were not disappointed. It all started with the big names.
For UCF, McKenzie Milton showed why he was the Offensive Player of the Year in the AAC by throwing for 494 yards and five touchdowns while adding 64 yards and another score rushing. He overcame his three interceptions and played a big role in the second half for the Knights. His favorite targets, Tre’Quan Smith (161 yards) and Dredrick Snelson (145) added two scores a piece. Running backs Otis Anderson and Adrian Killins added 168 yards and two touchdowns on the ground as well.
Memphis’ playmakers stepped up in the big spotlight too. Riley Ferguson may have thrown the game ending interception, but not before he lit up the Knights secondary. The senior threw for 471 yards and four scores. Three of those scores and 195 yards went to Anthony Miller, who was the best player on the field Saturday. Sean Dykes had three catches, but those went for 161 yards. Tony Pollard played a big role in both the running and passing games, running for 71 yards with a touchdown, while also catching six passes for 72 yards and another score.
This was easily the best game of the day, but it was soured for those of us watching on TV (and maybe the fans at the game), by a certain announcement. After weeks of speculation, it was announced in the fourth quarter that Scott Frost would be leaving for Nebraska.
Source: Scott Frost has agreed to 7-year, $35 million deal with Nebraska, but in days leading up today’s AAC title game was still having some “serious cold feet & remorse.” @LarsAnderson71 previously reported contract figures— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) December 2, 2017
It was hard to tell if the fans at the game knew about the news when it broke, but that didn’t affect the noise level. It was really unfortunate that this had to be broken during the game. There were plenty of people who weren’t happy that ESPN announced the news, and play-by-play announcer Steve Levy even said it during the game. It was a little frustrating that a good game had to be soured by news that isn’t good for the AAC, but it’s not like we didn’t see this coming.
In the end, this was the best game of the weekend, and the AAC provided the country with the best game on TV for the second week in a row. UCF and Memphis were both deserving of a New Year’s Six bowl game trip, and the Knights capped off their magical season with another outstanding performance. Even though the Tigers didn’t win, they are very deserving of a good bowl game. Commissioner Mike Aresco has to be happy with the way the first “Power 6 Movement” championship game went, and we’re all hoping the UCF can make a statement in their bowl game as well.