ORLANDO, Fla. >> Central Florida needed another shootout in order to keep its unbeaten season alive. And when it was over the Knights found out their coach won’t be around much longer.
In one of the wildest FBS conference championship games, the 12th-ranked Knights captured the American Athletic Conference title today with a 62-55 victory over No. 16 Memphis in double overtime.
Mililani grad McKenzie Milton threw for 494 yards (28 of 40) and five touchdowns for the Knights as he was named the game’s most outstanding player. He also rushed for 64 yards and a touchdown. It is UCF’s third AAC crown in the past five years and comes eight days after it won the East Division with a 49-42 win over South Florida.
It was a wild game and quite possibly the last at UCF for coach Scott Frost. Less than two hours after the game, the second-year coach and Nebraska native was announced as the Cornhuskers’ next coach.
Frost — who inherited a team that was 0-12 in 2015 and has them as one of the two remaining unbeaten teams in FBS this season — said during the postgame news conference that he would discuss it with his team first.
“The hard thing about all of this is they should give you time after the season to make decisions and they don’t. These things happen at the wrong time,” Frost said. “The one thing I wasn’t going to do was sacrifice my commitment to this team. I’ve been game planning, coaching and doing the best that I can for these guys and these decisions land on you.
“This place has given me more than I have given this place.”
Athletic director Danny White said that there is a possibility that Frost would coach the Knights in their bowl game. Offensive coordinator Troy Walters has been named the interim coach to handle day-to-day matters.
If this was the end for Frost it was quite a sendoff. The top two scoring teams in the country combined for 117 points — which is a record for an FBS conference championship game — and 1,479 yards. It was tied at 48 at the end of regulation.
UCF had the ball first in the second overtime and scored on a 1-yard run by Otis Anderson. Memphis got as far as the UCF 9 on their possession but Riley Ferguson’s pass on second-and-goal was intercepted by Tre Neal as the Knights (12-0, CFP No. 15) secured a likely spot in a New Year’s Six bowl.
The teams exchanged touchdowns in the first overtime. Memphis got the ball first and scored when Ferguson connected with Anthony Miller from 15 yards. UCF answered on a 2-yard run by Adrian Killins.
The Knights led 48-34 early in the fourth quarter but the Tigers (10-2, CFP No. 20) rallied to tie with 4:13 remaining on Ferguson’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Miller.
Memphis had a chance to win it in regulation but Riley Patterson’s 51-yard field-goal attempt with 28 seconds remaining was wide left.
Dredrick Snelson and Tre’Quan Smith caught two touchdown passes apiece. Otis Anderson rushed for 117 yards on 16 carries.
Memphis’ Riley Ferguson was 30 of 42 for 471 yards and four touchdowns. Miller had 14 receptions for 195 yards and three touchdowns. Darrell Hanederson (15 carries, 109 yards) and Patrick Taylor (17 carries, 108 yards) each ran for over 100 yards and had a touchdown.
Memphis: The Tigers rallied from double digits twice— they also tried 17-7 in the first quarter before leading 31-24 at halftime — but their frustrations of playing in Orlando continue. They are winless in six trips here, including twice this year.
UCF: Two years after finishing 0-12, Scott Frost has accomplished the quickest turnaround in FBS history as the Knights are on track to get to their second New Year’s Six bowl in five seasons.
Memphis: Will likely play in their home stadium in the Liberty Bowl
UCF: Peach Bowl is the likely destination, but who will be coaching the Knights?