ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Central Florida for the second straight week prevailed in a shootout on its home field.
The 12th-ranked Knights captured the American Athletic Conference championship on Saturday as they defeated No. 16 Memphis 62-55 in double overtime. It is the Knights’ third AAC crown in the past five years.
They won the East Division last Friday with a 49-42 win over South Florida.
It was a wild game and quite possibly the last at UCF for coach Scott Frost. After it was over, the second-year coach and Nebraska native was asked about reports that he would become the Cornhuskers next coach.
Frost, fighting back tears, said: “I’m going to go celebrate with my team.”
If this was the end it was quite a sendoff. The top two scoring teams in the country combined for 117 points and 1,479 yards. It was tied at 48 at the end of regulation.
UCF had the ball first in the second overtime and scored on a 1-yard run by Otis Anderson. Memphis got as far as the UCF 9 on their possession but Riley Ferguson’s pass on second-and-goal was intercepted by Tre Neal as the Knights (12-0, CFP No. 15) secured a likely spot in a New Year’s Six bowl.
The teams exchanged touchdowns in the first overtime. Memphis got the ball first and scored when Ferguson connected with Anthony Miller from 15 yards. UCF answered on a 2-yard run by Adrian Killins.
The Knights led 48-34 early in the fourth quarter but the Tigers (10-2, CFP No. 20) rallied to tie with 4:13 remaining on Ferguson’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Miller.
Memphis had a chance to win it in regulation but Riley Patterson’s 51-yard field-goal attempt with 28 seconds remaining was wide left.
McKenzie Milton threw for 494 yards (28 of 40) and five touchdowns as he was named the game’s most outstanding player.
Dredrick Snelson and Tre’Quan Smith caught two touchdown passes apiece.
Milton also rushed for 64 yards and a touchdown. Otis Anderson rushed for 117 yards on 16 carries.
Memphis’ Riley Ferguson was 30 of 42 for 471 yards and four touchdowns. Miller had 14 receptions for 195 yards and three touchdowns. Darrell Hanederson (15 carries, 109 yards) and Patrick Taylor (17 carries, 108 yards) each ran for over 100 yards and had a touchdown.
Memphis: The Tigers rallied from double digits twice— they also tried 17-7 in the first quarter before leading 31-24 at halftime — but their frustrations of playing in Orlando continue. They are winless in six trips here, including twice this year.
UCF: Two years after finishing 0-12, Scott Frost has accomplished the quickest turnaround in FBS history as the Knights are on track to get to their second New Year’s Six bowl in five seasons.
Memphis: Will likely play in their home stadium in the Liberty Bowl
UCF: Peach Bowl is the likely destination, but who will be coaching the Knights?