Fiesta Bowl 2014: Battle of Offenses Will Be Decided by Wide Receivers

Kenny DeJohn@@kennydejohnAnalyst IIIDecember 15, 2013

MORGANTOWN, WV - SEPTEMBER 29:  Antwan Goodley #5 of the Baylor Bears celebrates after catching a seven yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers during the game on September 29, 2012 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia.  WVU defeated Baylor 70-63.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

While much of the focus will be on Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty and Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl, it's the wide receivers that need to be paid the most attention.

Both Petty and Bortles have a bevy of receivers that are capable of making plays for each offense, and it will be the most successful grouping of receivers that decides the outcome of the Fiesta Bowl.

Baylor wide receivers Antwan Goodley, Levi Norwood and Tevin Reese have been big-time targets for Petty this season, and they have contributed to his 3,844-yard season in the air.

Dec 7, 2013; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears wide receiver Levi Norwood (42) celebrates with wide receiver Antwan Goodley (5) after scoring a touchdown against the Texas Longhorns during the second half at Floyd Casey Stadium. The Bears won 30-10 to win the B
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Goodley hauled in 67 receptions for 1,319 yards and 13 touchdowns. It's clear that Goodley is Petty's favorite target, as over one-third of his total passing yardage and nearly half of his touchdown passes were credited to Goodley.

As a possession receiver, Norwood has been crucial to Baylor's offense. His 43 catches rank second on the team and his 670 receiving yards rank third.

Reese, Petty's second-favorite deep threat after Goodley, recorded 33 catches for 824 yards and eight touchdowns. The senior wideout has big play potential and is a quality receiver despite his small, 5'10" frame. 

This trio of wide receivers has made Petty's life very easy under center. Petty only threw two interceptions on the year, and that's a tribute to both his abilities as a passer and his receivers' abilities to get open. If one or two of them can get open at any given time against UCF, then Petty will pick the defense apart.

November 21, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; UCF Knights wide receiver Breshad Perriman (11) is congratulated on a touchdown by wide receiver J.J. Worton (9) and wide receiver Rannell Hall (6) against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights  at Bright House Networks Stadium.

Bortles also has a quality trio of receiving options. Rannell Hall highlights the group, as he recorded 53 catches for 773 yards with three touchdowns on the season. He has struggled a bit in his past three games, but Bortles continues to look his way.

Breshad Perriman has nearly equaled Hall's output with just 36 catches. He accumulated 763 yards and hauled in three touchdowns this season, and he is a legitimate deep threat for Bortles. If Perriman can get open over the top of the defense, then Bortles will have a field day against the Baylor secondary.

The key receiver for Bortles will be J.J. Worton. Worton doesn't rack up a ton of yards, though he does have 42 receptions—second-most on the team—and a team-high seven touchdowns. When UCF gets in the end zone, expect Bortles to look Worton's way immediately.

With such talented receivers playing, the Fiesta Bowl figures to be a pass-happy contest. That will result in big scores and a ton of points if the defenses can't keep up.

The key will be which receivers can effectively move the chains while providing threats down the field. Baylor's receivers posted stronger numbers because of Petty's great play, but one could easily argue that UCF's receivers are equally as talented.

Baylor is widely considered the favorite in this one because of their absurdly high-powered offense, but UCF can win if Bortles and Worton are able to hook up in the end zone.

Worton will be the focus of Baylor's defense in the red zone, and their ability to cover him will make scoring touchdowns through the air difficult for UFC.

Two of the better quarterbacks in the nation have had the luxury of throwing to some very talented receivers this season, and it will be the most productive trio that decides the outcome of the Fiesta Bowl.