|Blake Bortles dominated the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl against Ball State (US Presswire)|
UCF WON: Quarterback Blake Bortles threw for 271 yards and three touchdowns and also added another 79 yards and a score on the ground to lead UCF (10-4) to a 38-17 victory over Ball State (9-4) in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl held in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Friday night. Bortles, a sophomore, was highly efficient, completing 22 of 33 passes as the Knights offense piled up 495 total yards and dominated the time of possession. His 350 yards of total offense was a career high. Tailback Latavius Murray added 74 yards and one touchown for UCF, while true freshman wide out Breshad Perriman had five catches for a career-best 90 yards. Ball State came into the game averaging 35 points per game but never really got on track offensively. Quarterback Keith Wenning threw for 218 yards and two touchdowns while running back Jahwan Edwards rushed for a game-high 89 yards on 14 carries, but the Cardinals managed just 286 yards of total offense. It was UCF's second-ever bowl win, while Ball State is still seeking its first-ever FBS bowl victory.
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WHEN UCF WON: Down 21-7 with 5:50 to play in the first half, Ball State drove 68 yards in 11 plays all the way down to the UCF 7-yard line. But the Knights defense held firm, and Steven Schott's 35-yard field goal attempt went wide left. UCF took over with 55 seconds left in the half and drove 80 yards in seven plays, culminating in a 7-yard screen pass from Bortles to Murray. UCF went into the half with a 28-7 lead and Ball State never threatened again.
WHY UCF WON: Ball State just couldn't find a way to contain Bortles, who did whatever he wanted throwing or running. Even when the Cardinals pressured him effectively, he merely side-stepped the rush, kept his shoulders square and found a receiver downfield ... or scrambled for a first down. The Knights were especially clutch on third down, converting 9 of 12 conversion attempts. With Bortles playing so well, it took a lot of pressure off the UCF defense, which did a fine job keeping Ball State in check.
WHAT UCF WON: UCF picked up its fourth 10-win season in its history and showed some resiliency by bouncing back after a tough loss to Tulsa in the Conference USA title game three weeks ago. The Knights move on to the Big East next season and could make some noise, especially with Bortles on the rise and young talents like Perriman and tailback Storm Johnson waiting to emerge.
WHAT BALL STATE LOST: The loss snapped the Cardinals' six-game win streak and prevented Ball State's first-ever bowl win as an FBS team.