Central Florida and its explosive offense dominated the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, as the Knights crushed Ball State, 38-17.
Quarterback Blake Bortles led the Knights' potent attack, completing 22-of-32 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns. He also did some damage on the ground, adding 79 yards and another score on just nine carries.
While Bortles was the catalyst of UCF's success, he received plenty of help from his teammates. Senior running back Latavius Murray racked up 74 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, while Storm Johnson (how cool is that name?) scampered for 50 yards on just six touches.
As a team, the Knights gained 495 total yards. They were almost unstoppable when it mattered, converting 9-of-12 third-down tries. They also dominated the time of possession and didn't commit a single turnover, which contributed to their blowout victory.
For Ball State, this is a disappointing end to a fine season. The Cardinals won nine games in 2012, but they simply ran into a better team.
Star running back Jahwan Edwards gave them 89 yards on 14 carries, and junior QB Keith Wenning had a solid game. Unfortunately, the Cardinals just couldn't contain the Knights offense, and they dropped to 0-6 all-time in bowl games.
As Bortles shredded Ball State's defense, Michigan high school prospect Jared Wangler asked what many viewers were thinking:
How did this quarterback from central Florida not go somewhere bigger?— Jared Wangler (@Jwangles24) December 22, 2012
Paul Tenorio of the Orlando Sentinel added a fact that should frighten coaches around the country:
The value of Bortles mobility -- both in rushing for yards and buying time -- is so key for UCF's offense. Still just a sophomore. #osucf— Paul Tenorio(@osknights) December 22, 2012
The folks at Walton Webcasting were excited by one of the funnier moments of the game, when 6'5", 325-pound guard Kitt O'Brien of Ball State caught a deflected pass in the first half:
Kitt O'Brien with a catch in bowl game for Ball State.Coach Mannering had no idea of those skills!! #lewiscass— Walton Webcasting (@Waltonwebcast) December 22, 2012
Unfortunately for Ball State, not even O'Brien could save them from an eventual beatdown. As fan Vinnie Lopes pointed out, Central Florida is now on the growing list of teams that have beaten the Cardinals in a bowl game:
Teams #BallState has lost to in bowl games:Eastern Kentucky, Fresno State, Utah State, Nevada, Rutgers, Tulsa & now Central Florida.— Vinnie Lopes (@vinnielopes) December 22, 2012
But the Tweet of the Night goes to Notre Dame fan Dan Groves, if only because he made me realize that Ball State freshman receiver Stewart Turner has an awesome Twitter handle:
These Ball State receivers can't catch...they need to put in @goon_squad_1— Dan Groves (@The_Grovenator) December 22, 2012
How could they not put him in?