HAWAII GROWN: Milton achieves perfection

Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin, left, kissed the championship trophy as Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton looked on after the Peach Bowl against Auburn. Photo courtesy Associated Press

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.


  1. PlayaHatersAnonymous January 2, 2018 11:23 am

    UCF is the real National Champions and not this hyped up SEC scam! SEC is overrated and everyone and they Mamma knows it and witnessed the only undefeated DI Football Team that beat the only Auburn Team that beat both Alabama n Georgia in their conferences! I hate these stupid NCAA Playoff Comittees!

  2. Alpha January 2, 2018 1:08 pm

    Awesome job McKenzie, but let’s be real guys. There’s no way UCF would beat any of the 4 schools in the playoffs. They weren’t even top 10 this year, Strength of scheduale was a big part of their success. But they did well this year, but not well enough to keep their Head Coach. . .

  3. AOK January 2, 2018 4:54 pm

    @Alpha You are wrong on 2 accounts:

    I’ll start with the more debatable point. UCF would not be able to beat any of the 4 teams in the CFP. How can you claim that? They beat Auburn who beat half of the teams in the playoffs (and more importantly the 2 teams who advanced to the final. Why wouldn’t they be able to hang with any of the 4? IMO, they would be most likely able to eke out a win versus Oklahoma. All offense and no defense, sounds perfect recipe for UCF.

    Second point, what do you mean not good enough to hang onto their coach? I mean what coach does not seek to get their foot into a Power 5 Coaching Job? You cannot name one. Even the hallmark of non-power 5 conference coaches Chris Peterson (you might remember him as the ex-coach of Boise State U) left for UW. Pac-12. You cannot compare the unlimited resources, nearly unlimited budget, higher salary, better perks, better more 5-star athletes you will be able to land as recruits in a Power 5 Coaching Job versus staying as a big fish in a small pond at schools like BSU, UCF, Navy, to name a handful. Coach Ken will not be staying forever at Navy. He was very close to leaving for BYU 1 year ago. Bottom line is every coach uses the non-power 5 jobs to jump to the power 5 jobs. The sooner you understand that, the better off you will be.

  4. Alpha January 2, 2018 8:59 pm

    @Aol… if Auburn was that good, why weren’t they in playoffs? The only school left out of the playoffs was Ohio St. (That loss to Iowa hurt). Scott Frost just went back to his alma mater. SEC schools hurt their own conference cause it’s so tuff. When it comes to the iron bowl rankings and record is out the window. UCF “eked” out wins vs SMU , South Florida and Memphis. Maybe that was factor in their ranking? You honestly think UCF would beat the 2 teams AU lost to?

  5. ahinalu January 2, 2018 10:07 pm

    Coach York You Train Them Well in Mililani !

  6. jason keuma January 3, 2018 1:51 pm

    Alabama should not be in the “playoff”. If “they” took the four highest ranking P5 champions and then paired them up, that would be a playoff. You are using existing conference championships as part of the playoff, thus actually having 8 teams playoff. Really if you included the 8 highest ranking conference champions, that would include a large majority of the teams in the country having a shot.

  7. anywaaaays!! January 4, 2018 9:57 am

    Alpha, what the hell. You talk like Auburn is some kind of scrub team. Auburn lost to LSU, Clemson, and Georgia, and split the series with georgia 1-1. This is a good football team. UCF could definitely beat LSU. can they beat georgia and clemson? Well, they’re both in the playoffs this year, so I don’t see why UCF shouldn’t get a shot at playing them.

    And don’t be stupid with the “lol if auburn is that good then why aren’t they in the playoffs, hurr hurr!”

    The playoff committee selects the teams and there’s no way based on strength of schedule or results that alabama should’ve gotten in, but they used some BS like “alabama passes the ‘eye test’ to let them in.” You can’t say that auburn is or isn’t good based on some decisions by a playoff committee. Look at their body of work. They’re an extremely solid team playing in a very tough conference.

    Can UCF beat georgia and then clemson back to back? Or oklahoma and georgia back to back? that would be difficult, but not many can. UCF deserved to be in there

  8. anywaaaays!! January 4, 2018 9:59 am

    Even the auburn loss to clemson was EXTREMELY close: 14-6. Does this mean that UCF can beat all of those teams in the playoff? no. does it mean that they were good enough to have a spot to try? yes

  9. Alpha January 4, 2018 1:05 pm

    UCF wants in, play in a big boy conference. . . Other then that, congrats on an awesome season. But imo, their not even the best team in Florida. . .

  10. anywaaaays!! January 5, 2018 12:00 am

    it’s hard to play in a big boy conference when the big boy conferences pass rules and policies to lock all the smaller conferences out of the playoff. it happened before the BCS, with the BCS, and now with the playoff (even though it’s not explicitly stated). college football is a multi-million dollar industry with a lot of the best contracts going to the power 5 schools. they don’t want to share their pieces of the pie unless necessary. it’s not a matter of UCF being like “hey, SEC. we want to be in your conference” and the SEC being like “why sure thing!”

    and no, don’t be ridiculous, alpha. UCF is the best program in florida this year. University of Florida is 4-7 and fired their head coach. UCF already beat USF. FIU is 8-5. they’re not terrible but if you think a sun belt team is beating UCF, idk what you’re smoking. FAU had a really good season under lane kiffin, but they have three losses, two to navy and buffalo.

    Maybe think the Stetson University Hatters are better than UCF?

  11. Alpha January 5, 2018 7:37 am

    I think the bcs, big conference and ncaa learned their lesson when they did let an undefeated team from a small conf play in a big bowl game. . . Georgia killed them in the sugar bowl, remember? Nobody is gonna know how ucf would fare in the playoffs. But you have to remember their ranked 12th. They wouldn’t have made it if there was an 8 team playoff. If McKenzie wasn’t on that team nobody from Hawaii would give a flying crap about UCF. Consistency will get them in, that’s the only way a small conf school gets respect, their gonna have to repeat this year’s results next season. I can say if any school ranked higher then UCF had their sheduale the results would be the same for them. . . I dont know the same would be if UCF had Auburn, Ohio st or Wisconsins sheduale. . .

  12. anywaaaays!! January 5, 2018 8:44 pm

    Alpha, “I think the bcs, big conference and ncaa learned their lesson when they did let an undefeated team from a small conf play in a big bowl game. . . Georgia killed them in the sugar bowl, remember? ”

    This is cherry picking stats. If you want to talk about small schools playing in BCS bowls, then let’s look at ALL of the results, not just an overrated hawaii team:

    Utah was the first team from a small conference to play in a BCS bowl. They destroyed pitt 35-7 in the fiesta bowl.
    Utah smashed alabama the next year in the sugar bowl, 31-17.
    Boise beats Oklahoma in the fiesta bowl 43-42 in the craziest OT thriller in recent memory.
    An overrated hawaii team gets blown out by a georgia team that should’ve played for the national championship.
    TCU beats wisconsin 21-19 in the rose bowl.
    Northern illinois gets beat by florida state in the orange bowl.

    small schools were 4-2 against power five schools in the BCS bowl era. one of the reasons why the bcs was disbanded was because of this. It’s obvious the best of the non-BCS/power 5 schools can compete with the best of the power 5. they just aren’t given the opportunity to do so. Especially because power 5 schools tend to avoid playing good mid majors during the season because losing to them would destroy their BCS/playoff chances.

    it’s why hawaii had such a hard time getting big schools to play them during the june jones years.

    ” But you have to remember their ranked 12th. They wouldn’t have made it if there was an 8 team playoff.”

    they would’ve gotten in. in an 8 team playoff, it would be set for conference champs to get in, the best non-power five school and two at large bids. most likely, they would set it up so that it would be a six teams, with the top 2 teams getting byes: each P5 conference champ and the best ranked non P5 team.

    ” Consistency will get them in, that’s the only way a small conf school gets respect, their gonna have to repeat this year’s results next season.”

    you go by results in the season, not results from past seasons. and a reputation. that’s what’s wrong with college football. alabama did not deserve to get in. there’s a very good argument that as the only undefeated team in the land, and the fact that they beat auburn in their bowl game, they deserved to be in there and the playoff system needs to expand becuase right now, it’s extremely biased to P5 schools. but no, just being a small school in and of itself doesn’t mean the team is unworthy of being in the playoff.

    UCF should’ve been in there, at least over alabama.

  13. Paul January 7, 2018 7:01 am

    The bottom line is nobody would care if there wasn’t a Hawaii born player. And that’s that.

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