UCF driven to correct mistakes, shut down Auburn offense in Peach Bowl

Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham hands off to running back Kerryon Johnson Thursday Dec. 28 2017 during a Peach Bowl practice in Atlanta Ga

There's no beating around the bush; UCF's top opponents have been Memphis, twice, South Florida and Florida International. Auburn's pass rush was hit or miss throughout the game.

Sophomore McKenzie Milton overcame a shaky first half passing, finishing with 242 passing yards and three total touchdowns. Auburn's defensive front was led by outside linebacker Jeff Holland's nine sacks.

The Knights, winless just three seasons ago, are major college football's only unbeaten team and in a New Year's Six Bowl for the first time as the best of the non-Power Five conference teams. And can you imagine what kind of frenzy it will cause in Atlanta if Georgia is back in Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8 trying to win its first national championship since 1980?

The Tigers finish the season 10-4, a mild disappointment for a team good enough to beat both Clemson and Georgia.

UCF may not be playing in either of tonight's College Football Playoff semifinals, but at least one person considers the Knights national champions. Getting an 11th win this season - something that the program has done only seven times - and sending out the seniors with a win will be the rallying cries.

"These guys deserved to be here", Frost said of Auburn.

"When we started back up after the SEC Championship game, that's what I was focused on: doing my normal thing, doing my spin moves, doing my stiff arm, doing all that stuff to make sure that, when I'm out there in the game - you can't think about it in the game". Not only did the Knights hold up against the Tigers, they displayed more team speed than Auburn. UCF defeated Alabama 40-38 on October 28, 2000, and Georgia 10-6 in the Liberty Bowl on December 31, 2010.

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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. But with the loss, Stanford drops from a New Year's Six bowl to one of the non-January bowl games for the Pac-12.

The last time Malzahn had seen his offensive line get effectively blitzed, literally and figuratively, was the 14-6 loss at Clemson on September 9 when he watch Stidham go down 11 times. Though he gets far more coverage for his tweets, that Kiffin got the Owls moving from the start should remind folks that he's more than just a lightning rod - Kiffin is a really good coach. Expect Auburn to end the Golden Knights' Cinderella season. Auburn scored 41 points against Georgia Southern, 51 against Missouri, 49 against Mississippi State, 44 against Ole Miss, 52 against Arkansas, 42 against Texas A&M, 40 against Georgia and 42 against Louisiana-Monroe in 2017. "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.

But on the first play after his first incompletion of the game, with Auburn holding a 7-0 lead and driving, Stidham fumbled in the red zone for a third straight game.

FIELDS: Auburn 38, UCF 17.

What Johnson is not thinking about is anything beyond Monday's game. Even if he's slowed, Stidham has proven capable of guiding this team with 2,827 passing yards and 21 total touchdowns. Ryan Davis and Darius Slayton have combined for 1,342 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns while Will Hastings has 20 receptions. Martin's season-high for carries in a game was 14 - in the opener.

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