TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL STORYLINES
1. Fifth-ranked Baylor brings the nation’s top attack (53.3 points per game) into the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., on New Year’s Day, but No. 15 Central Florida is no offensive slouch. The Knights average 33.2 points behind quarterback Blake Bortles, who ranks ninth nationally in passing efficiency with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Bears quarterback Bryce Petty, who has thrown 30 touchdowns against two interceptions while rushing for 11 scores, ranks second in pass efficiency.
2. Both teams are making their first appearance in a BCS bowl. Baylor had national championship aspirations until getting blitzed at Oklahoma State 49-17 on Nov. 23, while Central Florida finished the season on an eight-game win streak to earn the American Athletic Conference’s automatic BCS bid.
3. While Central Florida boasts an outstanding running back duo in Storm Johnson (1,015 yards, 14 total touchdowns, 5.3 yards per carry, 29 catches) and William Stanback (six rushing scores), Baylor features a dangerous trio in Lache Seastrunk (1,060 yards, 11 rushing TDs), Shock Linwood (862, eight) and Glasco Martin (490, six). Seastrunk missed nearly three games with a groin injury but returned Nov. 30, running for 172 yards in season-ending victories over Texas Christian and Texas.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Baylor -16.5
ABOUT CENTRAL FLORIDA (11-1, 8-0 American Athletic Conference): The Knights rank 13th nationally in points allowed (19.6) and are led defensively by linebacker Terrance Plummer, who has 96 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two sacks, two interceptions and six pass breakups. Central Florida posted another 11-win season as recently as 2010 and has won its last two bowl games after losing its first three. But the Knights looked far from dominant down the stretch, squeaking by South Florida and Southern Methodist by a combined seven points.
ABOUT BAYLOR (11-1, 8-1 Big 12): The Bears won’t have lightning-fast wide receiver Tevin Reese, who averaged 25 yards per catch and hauled in eight touchdowns before dislocating his wrist, but Antwan Goodley (1,319 receiving yards, 13 TDs) and Levi Norwood (670, seven) also are thriving in coach Art Briles’ exciting scheme. Baylor averaged 51 more yards than any other team and scored at least 59 points seven times. The Bears, 10-9 in bowl games, rank 19th nationally in points allowed (21.2).
PREDICTION: Baylor 48, Central Florida 24