AP NEWS

No. 7 UCF faces No. 11 LSU in New Year’s Day Fiesta Bowl

December 31, 2018

Fiesta Bowl: No. 7 Central Florida (12-0) vs. No. 11 LSU (9-3), Tuesday, 1:15 p.m. Eastern (ESPN)

Line: LSU by 7 1/2.

Series Record: First meeting.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

UCF takes a 25-game winning streak into the Fiesta Bowl in its bid for a second straight undefeated season. The Knights proclaimed themselves national champions after last season and will likely do so again with a victory at the Fiesta Bowl. LSU is vying for its first 10-win season since 2013.

KEY MATCHUP

UCF’s defense vs. LSU’s run game. Nick Brossette and Clyde Edwards-Helaire combined for 1,588 yards and 21 touchdowns for the Tigers this season. UCF was among one of the nation’s worst teams against the run, allowing 227.4 yards per game, so the Knights may have to outscore the Tigers to win.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Central Florida: QB Darriel Mack Jr. The redshirt freshman was thrust into the starting role when two-time AAC player of the year McKenzie Milton suffered a gruesome leg injury in UCF’s regular-season finale against South Florida. Mack led a massive comeback against Memphis in the AAC title game, accounting for six TDs while throwing for 348 yards. The Knights will need him to be just as good against the physical Tigers.

LSU: QB Joe Burrow. LSU did not exactly have a prolific passing game this season, but could use Burrow to have a solid game to take pressure off the run game. Burrow threw for 2,500 yards and 12 touchdowns, though he completed only 57 percent of his passes. He did have just four interceptions and got better as the season progressed, completing at least 65 percent in LSU’s final three games.

FACTS & FIGURES

UCF’s winning streak is the fourth-longest in the FBS since 2000, behind Miami (34), Florida State (29) and Alabama (26). ... The Fiesta Bowl is LSU’s 50th bowl appearance (25-23-1), good for eighth all-time in the FBS. ... UCF was 24th nationally in scoring defense, allowing 21.3 points per game. ... LSU sophomore safety Grant Delpit is the ninth player in school history to earn consensus All-American honors. ... The Knights have forced a turnover in 31 straight games. Indiana has the nation’s second-longest streak at 18 straight games. ... LSU is No. 7 nationally with a turnover margin of plus-12.

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