If any game in this college football season could be deemed more entertaining than last week's UCF win over South Florida, it might be Saturday's UCF win over Memphis.
Eight days after beating its rival for the American's East Division title, UCF preserved its perfect season by winning a double-OT shootout for the American Athletic Conference championship against Memphis. The No. 14 Knights beat the No. 20 Tigers 62-55, securing a conference title and a New Year's Six bowl bid, likely the Peach Bowl, just two years after going winless.
It's been an incredible rebuild the past two years under coach Scott Frost, who led the Knights from 0-12 to six wins last year and from six wins to 12-0 this year. However, the impressive job he's done also means that his job is finished: Brett McMurphy and others reported during the game that Frost would be named the head coach at Nebraska, his alma mater. A couple hours after the game, Nebraska officially confirmed it:
Frost will end his run in Orlando with a championship. Mistakes nearly doomed the Knights, but they outlasted Memphis in a thriller that was much closer than the teams' first meeting -- a 40-13 UCF win in September.
Memphis totaled 753 yards and averaged 7.6 yards per play. UCF totaled 726 yards and averaged 9.2 yards per play. Both teams had over 30 first downs, both teams rushed for over 200 yards and both teams passed for over 400 yards (471 for Memphis' Riley Ferguson, 494 for UCF's McKenzie Milton). Defense was optional, but two teams that entered the game ranked No. 1 and No. 2 nationally in scoring more than lived up to the billing.
The Tigers' first two possessions ended in a fumble and a punt, but with the help of three UCF turnovers in the second quarter, Memphis took a 31-24 lead into halftime.
UCF and Memphis have a combined 55 points and 810 yards.- ESPN (@espn) December 2, 2017
It's halftime. 😳 pic.twitter.com/dip4e79OF3
After falling behind by 14, Memphis responded with a 66-yard Tony Pollard touchdown and a 10-yard Ferguson pass to Anthony Miller (who finished with 195 yards) to tie the game at 48 with 4:13 left.
UCF punted, and Memphis had a chance to play for the win. It converted a third-and-14 after a delay of game with a 36-yard Darrell Henderson run, but it stalled and missed a field goal. The Knights subsequently threw an interception, and the game went to overtime. Ferguson hit Miller for a TD. Adrian Killins responded with a two-yard UCF touchdown. Otis Anderson scored for UCF to start the second OT, and the Knights put the game away with a Tre Neal interception.
Championship. Ours.- UCF Football (@UCF_Football) December 2, 2017
The final play 👇🏆 pic.twitter.com/KebS6eUtF6
The win continues a roller coaster for UCF since joining the AAC, as the Knights began their time in the new league with a 12-1 record and Fiesta Bowl win in 2013. Now, after their downfall, they'll be heading back to a major bowl, needing a win against a Power Five opponent to finish undefeated.
The Frost era at UCF may have been short, but it couldn't have gone much better.