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Milton powers UCF to 34-27 Peach Bowl win over Auburn

  • Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin, right, and Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton (10) celebrate after the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game against Auburn, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, in Atlanta. Central Florida won 34-27. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) John Bazemore

  • Central Florida head coach Scott Frost holds the championship trophy after the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game against Auburn, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, in Atlanta. Central Florida won 34-27. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) John Bazemore

  • Central Florida wide receiver Otis Anderson (26) celebrates his touchdown with Emmanuel Logan-Greene during the second half of the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game against the Auburn, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart) Mike Stewart

  • Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton (10) runs out of the pocket against Auburn during the first half of the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) John Bazemore

  • Auburn wide receiver Will Hastings (33) is greeted by Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson (21) after scoring a touchdown Auburn wide receiver Will Hastings (33) catches a touchdown against UCF during the first half of the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, in Atlanta, Ga. (Albert Cesare/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP) Albert Cesare

  • Auburn wide receiver Will Hastings (33) catches a touchdown as UCF defensive back Tre Neal (23) hits him during the first half of the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, in Atlanta, Ga. (Albert Cesare/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP) Albert Cesare

  • Auburn defensive back Jayvaughn Myers (18) sacks Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham (8) during the first half of the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart) Mike Stewart

  • Auburn wide receiver Ryan Davis (23) leaps over Central Florida defensive back Mike Hughes (19) during the first half of the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart) Mike Stewart

  • Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton (10) runs into the end zone for a touchdown against Auburn defensive back Javaris Davis, left, and Auburn linebacker Deshaun Davis (57) during the first half of the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) John Bazemore

  • Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson (21) runs over Central Florida defensive back Mike Hughes (19) during the first half of the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart) Mike Stewart

  • Central Florida defensive lineman Tony Guerad (93) celebrates a play against Auburn during the first half of the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) John Bazemore

  • Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham (8) looks for a receiver against Central Florida during the first half of the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) John Bazemore

  • Central Florida defensive back Antwan Collier (3) celebrates with teammates after he intercepted a pass in the closing seconds of the Peach Bowl on Monday in Atlanta. Central Florida won, 34-27. AP

  • Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin, left, kisses the championship trophy as Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton looks on after the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game against Auburn, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, in Atlanta. Central Florida won 34-27. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) John Bazemore

  • Central Florida players celebrate after the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game against Auburn, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, in Atlanta. Central Florida won 34-27. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) John Bazemore



Associated Press
Monday, January 01, 2018

ATLANTA – McKenzie Milton wanted to throw a blanket of 13 wins and no losses over the College Football Playoff.

After Milton and Central Florida capped a perfect season, he suggested it was time to respect the Knights, even if they weren’t invited to the playoff.

Milton threw two touchdown passes and ran for 116 yards with another touchdown, leading No. 10 UCF to a 34-27 Peach Bowl win over No. 7 Auburn on Monday.

Then it was time to boast.

“I said on the podium you can go ahead and cancel the playoffs,” Milton said. “I’m not changing my mind.”

UCF (13-0) led 34-20 before having to stop a late Auburn comeback. Antwan Collier’s interception in the end zone with 24 seconds remaining clinched the win.

The UCF players launched a joyous postgame celebration, rolling around in confetti on the field while wearing T-shirts that read “Champions.”

The Knights won in their final game with coach Scott Frost, who stayed with the team through the bowl game after accepting an offer to become the new coach at Nebraska, his alma mater. Frost will bring most of his UCF assistants to Nebraska.

“It was the right thing to do to come coach these guys,” Frost said, holding the game ball. “I’m not happy for me. I’m so happy for these guys.”

The Knights thought they deserved a higher ranking after winning the American Athletic Conference and leading the nation in scoring. They made a strong statement by beating Auburn (10-4).

Frost said “it wasn’t right” for UCF to not receive more consideration for the four-team playoff.

“They deserve more credit from the committee than they got,” he said.

Auburn was held to 90 yards rushing on 44 carries.

“That was probably the main stat that was disappointing for me,” Tigers coach Gus Malzahn said.

More dominance: The Knights sacked Jarrett Stidham six times. Auburn had only one sack.

After Auburn took a 20-13 lead in the third quarter on a 4-yard run by Kerryon Johnson, Milton threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Otis Anderson to tie the game. Milton, under pressure, zipped an 8-yard scoring pass to Dredrick Snelson early in the fourth to give the Knights the lead.

Chequan Burkett’s 45-yard interception return for a touchdown pushed the lead to 14 points.

Auburn suffered its second straight loss at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where it was beaten by Georgia in the Southeastern Conference championship game one month ago.

Johnson, who said he was almost fully recovered from a late-season shoulder injury, ran for 71 yards.

UCF led 13-6 at halftime despite being held under 14 points at the break for the first time this season.

Trophies

Frost lofted the football-shaped Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl trophy before passing it on to his players. Milton was named offensive MVP. Shaquem Griffin, who had 12 tackles including 1½ sacks, was defensive MVP.