Make it 25 wins in a row for the UCF Knights.
Led by their backup quarterback, the Knights overcame a 17-point halftime deficit to win their second straight American Athletic Conference championship. Filling in for the injured McKenzie Milton (the AAC's Offensive Player of the Year), D.J. Mack passed for a pair of touchdowns and ran for four more to keep UCF's record unblemished (12-0) and set up a likely New Year's Six bowl game for a second year in a row. The loss ends a four-game winning streak for the Tigers.
Memphis capitalized on three UCF turnovers in the first half and roared to an early lead behind its sublime running back tandem of Darrell Henderson
and Patrick Taylor
. Henderson ran for more than 200 yards and three touchdowns before halftime
. Taylor scored on a 70-yard touchdown run and, with 118 yards for the game, surpassed 1,000 yards for the season. (Henderson's season total is now 1,909. It's the first time in Tiger history a team has had two 1,000-yard rushers in the same season.) Henderson's three touchdowns give him 25 this year, a new Memphis single-season record.
Just as they did in a win at the Liberty Bowl in October, the Knights elevated play on both sides of the ball after halftime. They scored touchdowns on five straight possessions, four of them runs of no more than five yards by Mack. The Tiger offense, meanwhile, ran into a wall, settling for a single Riley Patterson field goal in the second half.
Memphis gained 583 yards, but UCF accumulated 698. The Tigers rushed for 401, the Knights 350.
The victory gives UCF 13 straight in its series with the Tigers dating back to 2005. The Tigers' only win came in 1990, when the Knights competed as a I-AA program.
Now 8-5, Memphis will learn its bowl-game destination Sunday.