The Associated Press
Ball State (9-3) vs. Central Florida (9-4), 7:30 p.m. EST (ESPN)
Line: Central Florida by 7.
Series record: Ball State leads 2-1.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Ball State of the Mid-American Conference is seeking its first bowl victory and trying to finish with at least 10 wins for only the third time in school history. The Cardinals, who enter on a six-game winning streak, won 12 in 2008 and 10 in 1978. Central Florida, which is in a bowl for the fifth time under coach George O'Leary, is hoping to rebound from an overtime loss to Tulsa in the Conference USA championship game and finish with 10 double-digit wins for the third time since stepping up to the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Ball State's explosive offense, which is averaging 471.3 yards per game and UCF's stingy defense. The Knights have yielded 162.4 yards per game on the ground and 217.8 per game through the air. Ball State has scored 30 or points in 10 games, including 41 against Indiana and 31 against South Florida in its two wins over members of BCS conferences.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ball State: QB Keith Wenning has thrown for 2,878 yards, 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and directs a balanced offense that also features RB Jahwan Edwards, who is averaged 6.1 yards per carry while rushing for 1,321 yards and 14 TDs, and WR Willie Snead, who has 82 receptions for 1,070 yards and seven TDs.
Central Florida: RB Latavius Murray has rushed for 1,035 yards and 14 TDs and QB Blake Bortles has thrown for 2,787 yards, 22 TDs and seven interceptions. WR J.J. Worton leads the Knights in receiving with 41 catches for 562 yards and four TDs, while former QB-turned-receiver Jeff Godfrey has 36 receptions for 400 yards and three TDs.
FACTS & FIGURES
O'Leary, 59-55 in nine seasons at UCF, is coaching his 200th career game. The Knights are 1-3 in bowl games, with the victory coming over Georgia in the 2010 Liberty Bowl. Ball State, appearing in a postseason game for the first time since the 2008 GMAC Bowl, is 0-6-1 in bowl appearances. ... Cardinals coach Pete Lembo is 15-9 in two seasons at Ball State, which won four games this season in the final two minutes or overtime. BSU's losses were to Clemson, Northern Illinois and Kent State, bowl-bound teams with a combined record of 33-5. ... UCF is in a bowl game for the fifth time in eight years. The Knights also played in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl in 2009, losing 45-24 to Rutgers. ... Tropicana Field is the home of major league baseball's Tampa Bay Rays and is located about 100 miles west of the UCF campus in Orlando.
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