UCF won its 10th game of the year and 22nd since Josh Heupel took over as the Knights head coach, beating Marshall 48-25 in the Gasparilla Bowl on Monday afternoon in Tampa. It was a bowl game packed with highlights from the start, and the 73-point total made the game the highest scoring Gasparilla Bowl in the 12-year history of the game.
The playing conditions on a wet day in Raymond James Stadium wasted no time on making an impact, as a ball went through the hands of a Marshall receiver only to be picked off by UCF and returned the other way for a pick-six in the first minute of the game.
Marshall would go on to have four turnovers in the first half, two of them returned for touchdowns. It was such a fast start for the Knights that it left Marshall a little stunned as the UCF defense added a scoop-and-score to the pick-six in their haymaker of a first quarter.
After the first quarter, the game was fairly back-and-forth, but that 21-0 first quarter cushion allowed the Knights to keep the Herd from climbing back into the game. After giving up a couple of defensive touchdowns, Marshall got a spark of its own in the form of a 75-yard pick-six early in the second quarter.
UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel led the way 260 yards and two touchdowns, with another score on the ground, as the Knights rolled up 587 total yards of offense in the win. After establishing that early lead, the ground game took over and was able to pile up 310 yards at 6.6 per attempt.
The win serves as a strong affirmation of where this program is heading into 2020. UCF was the better team, and did exactly what was expected in terms of winning this game by a significant margin. The Knights entered the contest as a 9-3 team disappointed to be on the outside looking in on New Year's Six contention dating back to their early losses to Pitt and Cincinnati.
Now, those disappointments and the late season loss to Tulsa fall to the background under the banner of another 10-win season for this program. UCF lost three games by a combined seven points, and the dominance that it showed in 10 wins proves that it's not going anywhere after one season without an American Athletic Conference title. UCF enters 2020 with multiple options at quarterback to lead an offense that has taken no steps back under Josh Huepel, who is now 22-4 as the Knights head coach.