Published: Tue, January 02, 2018
Sports | By Brett Lawson

UCF Athletic Director Proclaims Golden Knights National Champions After Win Over Auburn

UCF Athletic Director Proclaims Golden Knights National Champions After Win Over Auburn

The Tigers rank 10th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 17.3 points per game, while the Knights lead the nation with their average of 49.4 points.

Central Florida completed an improbable unbeaten season in coach Scott Frost's farewell game, striking a blow for non-Power Five Conference schools. On Auburn's next drive, Jarrett Stidham threw a pick-six and the Tigers were in a 14-point hole they could not get out of.

UCF scored its final touchdown when linebacker Chequan Burkett intercepted Stidham and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown to give UCF a 34-20 lead with 5:56 left.

After forcing another punt, UCF took a 27-20 lead early in the fourth quarter on an 8-yard pass from Milton to Dredrick Snelson with 11:36 left in the game. "They beat two teams that are in the playoff". Despite UCF's talent on offense, the Tigers will control and minimize the Knights' ability to make explosive plays.

Auburn is 3-0 against UCF, with all three wins coming between 1997 and 1999.

QB McKenzie Milton was the MVP for UCF. Defensively, Auburn is allowing 17.3 points and 312.3 yards per game. Only once has an opponent topped 300 yards passing (Ole Miss) and only twice has an opponent topped 200 yards rushing (Alabama and Georgia). The six sacks were the most allowed by Auburn since giving up 11 on September 9, when the team had the worst offensive performance of Gus Malzahn's career in a 14-6 loss to the defending national champions.

AP PREVIEW: The Auburn Tigers hoped that the SEC Championship Game would be the first of two trips to Atlanta's new Mercedes-Benz Stadium this season.

The Knights will be playing a pretty darned good team Monday. The loss to Georgia cost the Tigers a chance to play in the College Football Playoff. "So our players know they have a challenge", Frost said.

"Right now", Stidham said, :I'm just kind of focusing on the bowl game".

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Now, all Auburn needs him to do is bounce back from the loss to Georgia the same way he did after losses at Clemson and LSU.

There's no questioning Auburn's credentials, but that isn't necessarily the case with UCF.

FIELDS: I'm not anxious about Auburn's motivation. There were a lot of empty seats on the Tigers' side of the stadium. The Tigers have the laid the ground work to prove that the program is on an upswing and should be in the discussion for the playoffs next year.

With a simple eye test it's easy to tell that Auburn is bigger and taller than the Knights squad and that this is going to be a battle fought in the trenches. "I really do think that". The Knights beat the Tigers 34-27 on Sunday, overcoming two missed field goals to finish 2017 with a ideal record of 12-0.

VITALE: Auburn 41, UCF 24. "I thought Kerryon had some very good runs, some tough runs, and there wasn't a whole lot of creases like there normally are".

DENNIS: Auburn 35, UCF 24.

Series history: Auburn leads the series 3-0. "I gave Darius (Slayton) a go route".

I also expect Auburn's defense and heralded seniors Tre' Williams, Tray Matthews and Stephen Roberts to contain Milton and receiver Tre'Quan Smith (1,082 yards, 13 touchdowns). Johnson had the team's longest run (14) and the Tigers finished with just 90 yards rushing on 44 carries.

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