UCF Knights beat Florida to first college football win over Gators, Sunshine State gets to brag

When the last seconds pass UCF‘S 29-17 win Florida at the Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl on Thursday night, the UCF football Twitter moderator was quick to issue a statement: “Sunshine STATEment.”

Indeed, UCF didn’t just make history with its first win over Florida. It was also UCF’s first win of any Power 5 program in the state. With a score of 9-4, UCF ended this season with the best record in Florida – the same way they did in 2017 and 2018.

For Florida, it was another shameful loss at the end of a season filled with them. The Gators opened the season in 14th place. In the end, coach Dan Mullen was fired and they finished 6-7th, their first loss since 2017. It was also the team’s first loss. program before an in-state school does not. named Florida State or Miami since Stetson in 1938. And the Knights won the game despite a long injury list for some of their top players, including the quarterback. Dillon Gabriel, who was no longer with the group after moving to UCLA.

Freshman coach Gus Malzahn is also on the injury list, having broken his leg last month when he accidentally bumped the sideline during a game against Tulane.

“I’m so proud of our boys. The nature they’ve shown through tough times this year has been incredible. A lot of teams will be shattered in the face of what we’ve been through. Yes.”

To be clear, the Florida team attending Thursday night’s bowl game doesn’t involve anyone at UCF. It’s a game UCF has been wanting to play since 2018, when both teams qualified for the New Year’s Five Games but were sent to different games (UCF to Fiesta Bowl to play LSU; Florida to Chick) -fil-A Peach Bowl to play Michigan). UCF felt uneasy, and that proliferated among the fan base in the ensuing years.

But now? UCF has those bragging rights and will never let Florida forget what happened on a cool night in Tampa.

Receiver Ryan O’Keefe has a versatile 251 yards on his way to the Most Valuable Player of the Game title, and Malzahn says the goal is to get him “at least 15 touchdowns. You’ve seen what he’s done with it when got the ball. He’s one of the best players in the game.”

O’Keefe said he was then inspired to play in honor of former UCF rerun Otis Anderson Jr., who was fatally shot during a domestic dispute with his father last month.

O’Keefe said: “I passed away very badly. “I saw his shirt tonight and said I would play for him.”

UCF put Florida behind in the second half. The Knights finished with 288 quick javelins, ensuring that they wouldn’t be denied.

Meanwhile, Florida’s midfielder Emory Jones, who said he had previously planned to enter the transfer gate, trying to make precise throws to the wide receiver all night, finishing 14 of 36 for 171 yards. The same mistakes that plagued Florida all year – inconsistencies in midfield, too many cards and undisciplined play – came up again in the final game under interim coach Greg Knox. .

“I think our kids played their best, but we couldn’t fix the mistakes we made,” Knox said. “We made a lot of mistakes as a team – individual fouls, penalty fouls, wrong starts – and we just can’t win the big ball games when you make the numbers. that mistake.”

To be sure, UCF is no longer the last showdown between the schools with a score of 42-0 in 2006. The Knights have won a total of 50 games over the past year, the most in any season range. in the program history.

And they’re headed for the Big 12, eager to join the ranks of the “Big Three” in Florida and eventually have it known as the “Big Four” once and for all.

“This is just the beginning,” Malzahn said on television after the game. “I truly believe we have big dreams, we have big goals. We can win the whole thing here. Tonight is just the first step. Recruiting is happening now. very good.”

https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/32932185/ucf-knights-beat-florida-first-college-football-win-gators-sunshine-state-bragging-rights UCF Knights beat Florida to first college football win over Gators, Sunshine State gets to brag

Jake Nichol

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