There is a college football game scheduled for Monday pitting SEC teams Georgia and Alabama that is being billed as the national championship game.
Both of those teams have lost a game this year — to Auburn. The same Auburn team that lost the Peach Bowl, 34-27, to undefeated Central Florida.
The Knights completed a perfect 13-0 season with quarterback McKenzie Milton, the American Athletic Conference offensive player of the year, leading the way. Milton, the Mililani alumnus who finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting, recorded the first 100-yard rushing game of his career against the Tigers. He finished with 116 yards on the ground and a touchdown and was 16-for-35 for 242 yards and two touchdowns passing in the win.
Milton, who went 3-for-17 passing in a shaky first half, was 13-for-18 for 212 yards in the second half and threw both of his touchdowns on back-to-back possessions after Auburn took a 20-13 lead.
Milton was named the offensive most valuable player of the game and set the UCF single-season rushing record by a quarterback with 613 yards.
“We played our butts off tonight and we were victorious and this is an unreal moment and I’m going to cherish it forever,” Milton told reporters after the game.
Head coach Scott Frost said on the TV broadcast coming out of halftime that Milton played like he was a little nervous early on. In the second half, Milton was back to playing like he has all season long.
“You know, we kind of came out sleepwalking, throwing the ball in the air,” Milton said. “I don’t know if it was the big lights or the big Jumbotron. You know, I think we kind of started hitting our stride later in the second quarter and then in the third and fourth quarter we started rolling.”
The Knights will be home watching Georgia and Alabama play for the recognized national championship on Monday. Georgia lost to Auburn, 40-17, this season while over Thanksgiving weekend, Auburn handled Alabama in the Iron Bowl, 26-14.
The Knights, despite being undefeated, entered the bowl season ranked 12th by the college football playoff committee. They couldn’t even crack the top 10 and were listed behind a team with three losses — Auburn.
UCF closed as a double-digit underdog to the Tigers before the game.
“We knew Auburn was going to be the best team we played all year, and we’ll line up and go against anybody,” Milton said. “I said in the springtime, I’ll take our ballclub against anybody in the country, and I still feel that way.”
He hasn’t been wrong yet.