Fiesta Bowl Preview

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

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FIESTA BOWL
No. 6 Baylor (11-1) vs. No. 15 Central Florida (11-1), 9:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Line: Baylor by 16 1/2.
Series Record: First meeting.

WHAT'S AT STAKE
Both teams are playing in a BCS bowl for the first time. Baylor has been building toward this in its six seasons under Art Briles after making appearances in smaller bowls the previous three years. A decided underdog, Central Florida is trying to cap off the best season in school history and prove it was worthy of a BCS bowl berth.

KEY MATCHUP
Central Florida's defense against Baylor's offense -- all of it. The Bears led the nation in scoring at over 53 points per game and in total offense with 624.5 yards, which was second-most in FBS history -- by percentage points -- behind Houston in 1989 and 50 more than any other team this season. What makes Baylor so good is that it gains all those yards with a near-equal reliance on passing and running, leaving the Knights with a tough decision on what to try stopping.

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Baylor: QB Bryce Petty. The junior led the nation in yards per completion at 17.4, was second in passing efficiency at 179.2 and eighth in passing yards per game at 320.3. He has several talented receivers and a running back (Lache Seastrunk) who can take the pressure off.
Central Florida: RB Storm Johnson. He led the American Athletic Conference in rushing with 1,015 yards, touchdowns with 14 and all-purpose yards with 1,276. The Knights could use a big game from him to help keep Baylor's offense off the field.

FACTS & FIGURES
Baylor scored 70 or more points four times during the regular season. It also scored 28 points in a quarter seven times, matching the number of times it had in 1,137 previous games all-time. ... Central Florida finished 15th in the BCS rankings, highest in school history, after winning the inaugural AAC title. ... The Bears won their first Big 12 title since the conference was formed in 1996 and their sixth conference title overall. ... UCF played eight games decided by seven points or less, including five by three points or less. ... Baylor is known for its offense, but its defense was sixth nationally in yards per play allowed (4.53), seventh in tackles for loss per game (7.9) and first downs allowed (213). ... UCF QB Blake Bortles was ninth nationally in passing efficiency (163.3) and 18th in passing yards per game (273.3).


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