Central Florida wins Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl | College football
Central Florida beats Ball State 38-17 in Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Central Florida will head into the new-look Big East Conference off an impressive showing in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl.
The Knights dominated Ball State 38-17 Friday night in their final game as a member of Conference USA, amassing 494 yards total offense while holding the normally high-scoring Cardinals to their lowest point total of the season.
"Offensively, this is one of the best games we had all year," UCF quarterback Blake Bortles said. "Everyone just really picked up and went, and that's why we won the way we did."
Bortles threw for 272 yards and three touchdowns. The redshirt sophomore also rushed for a career-high 80 yards and scored on a 6-yard run that helped UCF (10-4) build a 21-point halftime lead.
"I can't believe that this guy's not going to be a pro prospect if he continues to develop the way he has," Ball State coach Pete Lembo said. "So I'm very, very impressed with him and obviously the supporting cast."
Bortles tossed first-half TD passes of 7 and 5 yards to Latavius Murray, who also scored on a 2-yard run. J.J. Worton's 7-yard scoring reception made the score 35-10 late in the third quarter.
"I thought Blake did everything he needed to do by making the right decisions," UCF coach George O'Leary said. "Basically, he made the right decisions that moved us down the field. He really showed tonight why he's our guy out there."
Ball State (9-4) was hoping to finish with at least 10 victories for the third time in school history, but its high-powered offense sputtered while being held 18 points below its season average.
Keith Wenning threw a 7-yard TD pass to Willie Snead early in the second quarter, but the Cardinals didn't get into end zone again until Snead scored on a 16-yard reception with 5:26 remaining.
Bortles completed 22 of 33 passes without an interception to become UCF's first 3,000-yard passer since 2002.
Wenning, meanwhile, was 22 of 34 for 217 yards and two TDs for Ball State, which had a six-game winning streak snapped before an announced crowd of 21,759.
UCF, one of several schools joining the Big East next season, rebounded from an overtime loss in the Conference USA title game to finish with double-digit victories for the third time since stepping up to the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Knights also won 10 in 2007 and 2010, when they were C-USA champions.
The Knights' loss to Tulsa in the C-USA title game kept them close to home for the postseason. Instead of heading to the Liberty Bowl for the second time in three years, O'Leary and his players settled for about a 100-mile trek west from Orlando to Tropicana Field, the home of major-league baseball's Tampa Bay Rays.
O'Leary, 66, is 4-5 in bowl games, including a 2-3 record with UCF.
Ball State's first bowl appearance since 2008 is the latest step in an impressive turnaround under Lembo, whose team suffered early losses to Clemson, Kent State and Northern Illinois before winning six straight down the stretch.
With UCF dominating time of possession, Ball State never really had an opportunity to get its high-octane show going.
The Knights held the ball for nearly 13 minutes of the opening quarter, building a 159-15 advantage in total offense.
By halftime UCF had run 42 plays and gained 299 yards to increase its lead to 28-7.
Jahwan Edwards rushed for 89 yards on 14 carries for Ball State, which fell to 0-7-1 in bowl games.
for Rose Bowl
STANFORD, Calif. — Stanford defensive lineman Terrence Stephens has been declared ineligible for the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl against Wisconsin because of a secondary violation of NCAA rules related to his rental of off-campus housing.
School officials did not release further details about their decision. The senior nose guard missed victories in the regular-season finale and the Pac-12 championship game against UCLA for what coach David Shaw had called a "personal problem."
The 6-foot-2, 305-pound Stephens anchors the Stanford defensive line's run package, often clogging the middle to free teammates to fill the gaps. Stephens has 10 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble this season. He also forced the victory-clinching fumble by Curtis McNeal in Stanford's 56-48 victory in triple overtime at USC last year.
"I love my team and the work we've all put in to get to this point," Stephens wrote on Twitter. "My situation is irrelevant. Go to the Rose Bowl and cheer on a great team."