Bowl Games

Fiesta Bowl 2014: X-Factors for Baylor and UCF in BCS Matchup

FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 30:  Bryce Petty #14 of the Baylor Bears celebrates a touchdown against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium on November 30, 2013 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
R. Cory SmithSenior Writer IDecember 9, 2013

The Fiesta Bowl between Baylor and UCF is predicted to be one of the most lopsided games during this year's BCS bowl slate, with the Bears favored by 17 points over the Knights, according to Vegas Insider. But major upsets are not uncommon in BCS bowls; just ask the 2006-07 Boise State team or Vince Young and the 2006 National Champion Texas Longhorns.

But in order to pull off upsets, the biggest playmakers must step up for their teams and have memorable performances. Ian Johnson had one for the Broncos, and Young had one for the Longhorns.

Both Baylor and UCF will need X-factors to tip the scales between the two teams, and here are the most likely candidates for both schools.

WACO, TX - DECEMBER 07:  Bryce Petty #14 of the Baylor Bears celebrates a touchdown against the Texas Longhorns at Floyd Casey Stadium on December 7, 2013 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

 

Bryce Petty

My goodness, what a year Bryce Petty has had. In his first season as a starter, the junior has thrown multiple touchdowns in every game this season and tallied five games with three or more touchdowns. And that's only his passing statistics.

Petty as a rusher hasn't gone for over 50 yards this season, likely thanks to being sacked 15 times but has added 11 touchdowns this season on the ground. The Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year also threw just two interceptions all season against West Virginia and TCU, which were six games apart.

The junior has already announced he will return for his senior season and is seen as one of the best senior quarterbacks returning next year, according to Gil Brandt of NFL.com:

Central Florida ranks third in the American Athletic Conference in passing defense, giving up just 229.8 yards per game and has only allowed 11 passing touchdowns on the season. But the Knights will have their hands full with Petty and the Bears' passing attack.

ORLANDO, FL - NOVEMBER 29:  Storm Johnson #8 of the Central Florida Knights runs with the ball against the South Florida Bulls during the first half of the game at Bright House Networks Stadium on November 29, 2013 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Joe Robbi
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

 

Storm Johnson

The junior tailback has rushed for 1,015 yards and 11 touchdowns this season for a team that is typically pass-first. But in order for the Knights to pull off a huge upset, they will need Johnson to have a huge game against the No. 3 rush defense in the Big 12.

While Johnson failed to show up against SMU in the last game for the Knights, he will need to support quarterback Blake Bortles to defeat Baylor. The junior has rushed for over 100 yards in four games this season and has three multi-touchdown games this year.

Johnson might also be a threat in the passing game against Baylor. With 29 receptions for 261 yards and three touchdowns on the season, he might get the job done in two different facets of the game for the Knights.

NORMAN, OK - NOVEMBER 10: Running back Lache Seastrunk #25 of the Baylor Bears celebrates a touchdown against the Oklahoma Sooners November 10, 2012 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
Brett Deering/Getty Images

 

Lache Seastrunk

Seastrunk didn't exactly win the Heisman, like he predicted for himself before the season started, but the junior did finish as the best running back in the Big 12, statistically speaking.

In 10 games this season, Seastrunk averaged 106 yards per game and finished with 11 touchdowns. In his last two games for the Bears, he was unable to run for more than 100 yards but did total more than 75 yards in both games.

In order for the Bears offense to truly get going against the Knights, they will need Seastrunk to have another 100-yard performance and would benefit from his fifth multi-touchdown game of the year.

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