As the last seconds ticked off UCF’s 29-17 win over Florida in the Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl on Thursday night, the UCF football Twitter handle rushed to make a revelation: “Sunshine STATEment.”
For sure, UCF not just left a mark on the world with its first success over Florida. It was additionally UCF’s first win over any Power 5 program in the state. At 9-4, UCF completes this season with the best record in Florida – – the same way it did in 2017 and 2018.
For Florida, it was one more humiliating misfortune to end a season loaded up with them. The Gators opened the season positioned No. 14. Before its finish, mentor Dan Mullen had been terminated and they completed 6-7, their first losing season starting around 2017. It was likewise the program’s first misfortune to an in-state school not named Florida State or Miami since Stetson in 1938. Also the Knights dominated the match in spite of a long physical issue rundown to a portion of their top players, including quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who is no longer with the group subsequent to moving to UCLA.
First-year mentor Gus Malzahn was on the harmed list, as well, having broken his leg last month when he was unintentionally hit on the sideline against Tulane.
“I am so proud of our guys. The character that they have showed through tough times this year is amazing. A lot of teams would have splintered when faced with what we had.”
Honestly, the group Florida took into the bowl matchup Thursday night was superfluous to anyone at UCF. It was a game UCF had been needing to play beginning around 2018, when the two groups equipped for New Year’s Six games yet were shipped off various games (UCF to the Fiesta Bowl to play LSU; Florida to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl to play Michigan). UCF felt insulted, and that brought forth warmed takes between the fan bases throughout the resulting years.
However, presently? UCF gets those boasting freedoms and won’t ever allow Florida to fail to remember what occurred on a cool night in Tampa.
Collector Ryan O’Keefe had 251 generally useful yards in transit to the game’s Most Valuable Player praises, and Malzahn said the objective was to get him “at least 15 touches. You saw what he did with it when he got the ball. He is one of the best playmakers in the game.”
O’Keefe said subsequently he was propelled to play to pay tribute to previous UCF running back Otis Anderson Jr., who was shot and killed during a homegrown question with his dad last month.
“It hit me hard when he passed away,” O’Keefe said. “I saw his jersey tonight and said I was going to play for him.”
UCF destroyed Florida down and dirty in the final part. The Knights got done with 288 yards hurrying, ensuring they would not be denied.
In the mean time, Florida quarterback Emory Jones, who said already he wanted to enter the exchange entrance, battled to make precise tosses to totally open beneficiaries the entire evening, completing 14-of-36 for 171 yards. The very mix-ups that tormented Florida the entire year – – irregularity at quarterback, such a large number of punishments and wayward play – – appeared again in the last game under interval mentor Greg Knox.
“I thought our kids played hard but we just couldn’t overcome the mistakes we made,” Knox said. “We made a lot of mistakes as a team — personal fouls, holding penalties, false starts — and we just can’t win big ballgames when you make that amount of mistakes.”
Certainly, UCF is presently not the program that lost the last gathering between the schools 42-0 out of 2006. The Knights have prevailed upon a joined 50 games the beyond five years, their most in any five-season range in program history.
Also they are gone to the Big 12, anxious to join the positions of the “Large Three” in Florida and to at long last have it be known as the “Enormous Four” unequivocally.
“This is just the beginning,” Malzahn said on the television broadcast after the game. “I really believe we’ve got big dreams, we’ve got big goals. We can win the whole thing here. Tonight was just the first step. Recruiting’s going to go really good now.”