For the first time in history, the UCF football team is headed to the Military Bowl.
UCF (9-4) will meet Atlantic Coast Conference representative Duke (8-4) at 2 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022, in 34,000-seat Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland, in the Military Bowl presented by Peraton, benefiting the USO. The game will be televised by ESPN.
It’s a program-record seventh consecutive postseason bowl appearance for the Knights, the 10th in 11 seasons and the 14th in 18 years. UCF also previously played in the NCAA Division II playoffs in 1987 and in the NCAA FCS Playoffs in 1990 and 1993.
The Knights previously have played twice each in the Fiesta Bowl (following 2014 and 2018 seasons), Liberty Bowl (2007 and 2010), St. Petersburg Bowl (2009 and 2014) and Gasparilla Bowl (2019 and 2021) and once each in the Hawaii Bowl (2005), Beef O’Brady’s Bowl (2012), Cure Bowl (2016), Peach Bowl (2017) and Boca Raton Bowl (2020).
The Military Bowl has been played since 2008 — the first two seasons as the EagleBank Bowl and then as the Military Bowl beginning with the 2010 campaign. The game benefits the USO and Patriot Point, the Military Bowl Foundation’s 294-acre retreat for wounded, ill and injured service members, their families and caregivers.
Previous American Athletic Conference participation has included Navy in 2008, 2015 and 2017, Temple in 2009, 2016 and 2019, East Carolina in 2010 and 2021 and Cincinnati in 2014 and 2018. The 2020 game was cancelled due to lack of available teams and the 2021 game also was cancelled due to Covid-related issues. The game originally was played at RFK Memorial Stadium through 2012, then moved to Annapolis. The game has featured an ACC-vs.-AAC matchup since 2014, and those leagues have contracted to continue that matchup through 2025. Previous AAC winners have been Navy in 2015 and 2017 and Cincinnati in 2018.
UCF head coach Gus Malzahn has seen his teams qualify for postseason bowl games in all 11 years he has been a head coach, including seven appearances in New Year’s Day games: 2013 in BCS National Championship Game vs. Florida State, 2014 in Outback Bowl vs. Wisconsin, 2015 in Birmingham Bowl win vs. Memphis, 2016 in Sugar Bowl vs. Oklahoma, 2017 in Peach Bowl vs. UCF, 2018 in Music City Bowl win vs. Purdue, 2019 Outback Bowl vs. Minnesota, 2021 Gasparilla Bowl vs. Florida and 2022 Military vs. Duke. Malzahn’s 2012 Arkansas State team qualified for a bowl game—but he already had accepted the head coaching job at Auburn and did not coach the bowl game. He also did not coach the Auburn bowl game after the 2020 season after leading the Tigers to the Citrus Bowl vs. Northwestern.
UCF and Duke will meet for the first time. This marks the second time UCF has faced a current ACC member in a bowl game — following NC State’s win over the Knights in the 2014 St. Petersburg Bowl.