UCF beat Georgia 10-6 in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Friday afternoon. Here is a quick instant analysis:
How the game was won: UCF had to overcome plenty of adversity. UCF had a kickoff return for a touchdown to open the game taken off the board because of a penalty. Freshman quarterback Jeff Godfrey hurt his ankle early in the game and was gimpy for the rest of it. He threw two early interceptions, and receivers dropped plenty of balls. UCF also lost linebacker Derrick Hallman to an ankle injury and running back Ronnie Weaver to a shoulder injury. But the UCF defense kept the Knights in the game, with two interceptions off Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray and a fierce pass rush -- what you come to expect from the top defense in Conference USA. The UCF offense was finally able to put a touchdown on the board in the fourth quarter. After that, the UCF offense went conservative, and gave the ball back to Georgia with 2:20 to go. The Bulldogs drove down the field, thanks to two fourth-down conversions. But Bruce Miller had a huge sack, forcing Georgia into a Hail Mary situation with no time on the clock. UCF batted it down in the end zone for its first bowl win in school history.
Turning point: UCF finally took advantage of a long drive in the fourth quarter, going 11 plays for 65 yards to take a 10-6 lead with 9:01 to play. Latavius Murray scored on the 10-yard run, but the biggest key on that drive was a 10-yard third-down completion from Godfrey to Brian Watters. That conversion gave the Knights a first-and-goal at the 10 and set up the winning touchdown.
Stat of the game: 6. Georgia tied its season-low point total.
Player of the game: Murray was able to run through some holes in the Georgia defense and also had the longest play of the day, an 18-yard run, in addition to the game-winning touchdown. He finished with 18 carries for 104 yards, his second 100-yard game of the season.
Unsung hero of the game: UCF defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable. His game plan slowed down a Georgia offense that had scored 30-plus points in seven straight games. Georgia had no running lanes, and the UCF defense was relentless on Murray. Not only that, UCF completely took away the big play from the Bulldogs. A.J. Green may have led the team with eight receptions for 77 yards, but his longest reception of the day was only 18 yards.
What it means: UCF not only won its first bowl game in four appearances, the Knights also won 11 games for the first time in school history and got their third ever victory over an FBS opponent. No question this has been the best season in school history, with the school's first Top 25 ranking and another Conference USA championship. Now the big question is whether UCF can use this as the next step to elevate its program. There has always been talk that UCF is a sleeping giant, and now finally UCF can proclaim it has something over the other FBS teams in the state -- more wins than they do. UCF cannot waste this season's success.