Offense vs. Defense
When Baylor has the ball
Needless to say, the Central Florida Knights will have their hands full with the Bears on New Year's Day. Baylor has one of the most explosive and powerful offenses in the country, guided by a Top 12 running back and a top 5 passing attack. They are #1 in scoring offense by a wide margin, and also in total yards. UCF has had a good season when just looking at the normal statistics, but the level of opposition that their defense has faced has been rather suspect. After reviewing their rush defense in Part 1 of our preview, let's take a look at some of the key members of that rush defense.
Their front line has some tremendous size, with both of their defensive tackles over 300 pounds and the ends at 270 and 242 pounds. That is good size for a college defensive line. Those four players have done an okay job this year mainly b occupying blocks. Their four starters have combined for 98 tackles on the season. Where it appears the Knights defense gets in trouble is the second level outside of Terrance Plummer. Their other two linebackers have not been nearly as good in run support this season. Getting to the outside of the UCF defense in the rushing attack is crucial. Look for zone/read trap plays and sweeps rather than the up the gut rushes that Baylor usually prefers.
The passing game will be a great matchup between a deep and talented secondary for Central Florida and a deep and talented wide receiver group from Baylor. This might be the most enjoyable matchup to watch all game, especially with Tevin Reese back for the Bears. Jacoby Glenn as a freshman has been challenged quite a bit this year, but has stepped up more time than not and has had a very solid season. Opposite him is Jordan Ozerities, who doesn't have the size of Glenn, but does offer a bit more speed. The Knights also have two very good safeties in Clayton Geathers and Brandon Alexander.
When UCF has the ball
With Blake Bortles leading the charge, this is probably the most well-rounded and top offense the Baylor defense will have seen in the 2013 season, with Oklahoma State really the only comparable. Bortles is a tremendous quarterback that can do a little bit of everything. He has a strong arm, good accuracy, and solid athleticism. While he is not elite in any of these areas, he is good in all of them. He throws a better short or mid-range pass than a deep ball at the moment though, but he has a quick release that really helps those quick passes out to his wide receiver.
Speaking of the UCF receivers, this is the deepest and most talented group the Bears secondary will have seen all year. Rannell Hall is the best and brightest of the group and is their leading receiver. However, Breshad Perriman gives them a very good deep threat, while J.J. Worton and Jeff Godfrey are also very good possession receivers who can make very tough catches. This is a very good group of targets.
While they are a better passing attack than rushing team at this point, they do feature a very good runner in Storm Johnson. A good sized back at 6-feet tall and 215 pounds, he is not a banger or bruiser in the complete sense. While he is a better interior runner, he is not a guy that will just run over the opposition and just pump his legs. He is a balanced runner, more like a Jay Finley than a Glasco Martin. He is also very capable out of the backfield, with 29 receptions.
In front of all of the skill players is a very good offensive line, led by their two guards Jordan and Justin McCray. They happen to be twins that specialize at run blocking and clearing out a path for Storm Johnson. They have a lot of experienced talent up front and do not allow a lot of sacks (just 22 all year on 373 attempts). This is a strong offensive line that does a great job of keeping Bortles clean and paving the way for their running backs. s
Fun Stats to Ponder
-This is the first BCS appearance for both UCF and Baylor and in the last BCS bowl games ever
-UCF is 7-1 in games decided by seven points or less, while Baylor is 1-0. UCF is one of only three schools to win at least 6 games by seven points or less, and has the most such wins in the country
-The Fiesta Bowl will be the only BCS game to feature two Top 30 passing attacks in Baylor (5th) and UCF (27th). The teams average a combined 639.3 yards per game through the air
-The average rushing yards per game allowed by UCF is 116.5
-The average rushing attack that UCF faced was ranked 94.08 or in the bottom third of the NCAA in rushing
-Baylor's rushing attack is ranked 12th at 265.2 yards per game, which is around 60 yards more per game than the best rushing attack the Knights have seen all year averaged (South Carolina, ranked 30th at 205.3 ypg)
-That South Carolina rushing attack gained 225 yards on the ground against UCF