A day after accepting an invitation to the 2012 Beef `O’ Brady’s Bowl, the UCF football team learned its opponent Sunday for when it goes “Bowlin’ on the Bay.” The Knights will clash with Ball State on Friday, Dec. 21, at 7:30 p.m. at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
“We are very pleased with the opportunity to go to the Beef `O’ Brady’s Bowl and the chance to play Ball State who has a 9-3 record,” head coach George O’Leary said. “We’re looking forward to the competition as well as the festivities in St. Petersburg.”
To order tickets, call the UCF Ticket Office at (407) UCF-1000 or visit UCFAthletics.com for all of the details.
Ball State stands at 9-3 with its only losses coming to then-No. 12 Clemson, BCS-bound Northern Illinois and Kent State, which is currently ranked No. 25 in the Associated Press poll. The Cardinals have non-conference wins over Indiana, Army and South Florida, as well as a MAC victory at then-No. 25 Toledo. They have seven previous bowl appearances (last was the 2008 GMAC Bowl), and are 0-6-1 all-time.
BSU is riding a six-game winning streak while being led by quarterback Keith Wenning. The junior is completing 65.5 percent of his passes, averaging 261.6 yards per game and has tossed 22 touchdowns passes compared to 10 interceptions. On the ground, the Cardinals average 214.2 yards per game with sophomore Jahwan Edwards racking up 14 touchdowns, 1,321 yards and a 6.1 yards-per-rush average. Classmate Willie Snead, meanwhile, has amassed 1,070 receiving yards with seven touchdowns. And over on defense, junior defensive end Jonathan Newsome owns 8.5 sacks with 12.0 tackles for loss.
UCF holds a 9-4 record on the season and claimed its fourth Conference USA East Division title since joining the league in 2005. This will be the Knights’ second trip to the Beef `O’ Brady’s Bowl, as they lost to Rutgers in 2009, 45-24.
Overall, the Black and Gold is embarking on its fifth trip to a bowl game in the last eight seasons. Along with the 2009 journey to St. Petersburg, it made appearances in the 2005 Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl and the 2007 and 2010 AutoZone Liberty Bowls. That 2010 game marked UCF’s first bowl victory as it topped Georgia, 10-6.
Ball State is 2-1 overall vs. UCF, as BSU defeated the Knights on its home turf in 1996 and 2004, with the 2004 meeting occurring when both schools were in the MAC. UCF took down the Cardinals in 1998 in Orlando.