UCF puts 12-0 record on line against Auburn in Peach Bowl
Peach Bowl: No. 7 Auburn (10-3) vs. No. 10 Central Florida (12-0) at Atlanta, Monday, 12:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Line: Auburn by 10.
Series record: Auburn leads 3-0
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Central Florida is playing for the respect of the America Athletic Conference and to show it deserved a higher ranking, if not a spot in the College Football Playoff, as the nation’s top-scoring and only undefeated team. Auburn is looking to make up for a poor showing in its 28-7 loss to No. 3 Georgia in the Southeastern Conference championship game at the same Mercedes-Benz Stadium where it will play in the Peach Bowl. The loss to Georgia cost the Tigers a spot in the playoff after it beat two No. 1 teams in the playoff ranking — Alabama and the Bulldogs.
Auburn’s defensive front against Central Florida’s offensive line. The Tigers rank 10th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 17.3 points per game, while the Knights lead the nation with their average of 49.4 points. Led by quarterback McKenzie Milton, who finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting, Central Florida has scored at least 30 points in every game this season. The Knights will be without injured starting left tackle Aaron Evans and are expected to move Jake Brown from left guard and start freshman Samuel Jackson there. Auburn’s defensive front was led by outside linebacker Jeff Holland’s nine sacks.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Central Florida: Adrian Killins led the Knights with 762 yards rushing and 11 total touchdowns but may be better known for suggesting Auburn hasn’t faced a team with as much speed as Central Florida. Killins told the Orlando Sentinel: “SEC football, they don’t have a lot of speed, honestly.” Killins averaged 6.8 yards per carry and had 24 receptions.
Auburn: Junior running back Kerryon Johnson, selected by The Associated Press as the SEC’s offensive player of the year and second-team All-America, says he is close to 100 percent after he hurt his ribs and right shoulder against Alabama to close the regular season. Johnson had a season-low 13 carries for only 44 yards in the SEC championship game loss to Georgia. He will have to show he can withstand hits after being protected from contact in practice.
FACTS & FIGURES
This will be the final game for Central Florida coach Scott Frost, who has accepted the job at Nebraska, his alma mater. Former Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Heupel is Central Florida’s new coach and will watch the game from a private box. ... The Knights beat Baylor in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl and finished the year ranked No. 10, but Frost took over a program that finished 0-12 in 2015. ... Auburn took home wins over UCF in 1997, 1998 and 1999. ... QB Jarrett Stidham ranks eighth nationally and first in the SEC by completing 67 percent of his passes. ... This is the 50th anniversary of the Peach Bowl and the first time the game has been played at new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.