Three Storylines That Could Determine Winner Of BYU/UCF Game

Dec 21, 2020, 9:13 PM
BYU - UCF - Zach Wilson - Dillon Gabriel...
BYU and UCF in the 2020 Boca Raton Bowl will feature two star quarterbacks in Zach Wilson and Dillon Gabriel. (Photos courtesy of Getty Images)
(Photos courtesy of Getty Images)

BOCA RATON, Florida – No. 13 BYU looks to close out the wild and crazy 2020 season by taking on the UCF Knights in the 2020 Boca Raton Bowl in Florida.

The game will be played at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida. A total of 6,000 fans will be in attendance at that game. All 6,000 of the tickets have sold out between the two fan bases.

BYU/UCF Storylines

This is the third meeting all-time between BYU and UCF. The series is tied at one game apiece, with the last meeting in 2014 in Orlando. Both programs are scheduled to meet in the future in 2023, the 2024 seasons in a future home-and-home series.

#1 Star Quarterback Play for both BYU & UCF

Outside of the College Football Playoff and New Year’s Six, the 2020 Boca Raton Bowl between BYU and UCF is one of the best matchups in the bowl season due to quarterback stars. BYU’s Zach Wilson is a Heisman Trophy contender and has led BYU to heights offensively they haven’t experienced in a decade.

On the other sideline, UCF’s Dillon Gabriel is a rising sophomore who has passed for 3,353 yards this season in only nine games. Gabriel has completed 61 percent of his passes and has thrown 30 touchdown passes to only four interceptions.

Wilson has passed for 3,274 yards and completed 73 percent of his passes while also putting together an impressive 30 touchdown to three interception ratio.

Both offenses are high-powered; whichever one can avoid the mistakes they have avoided all season will go a long way towards gett their team a bowl game victory.

#2 Which defense can slow down the explosive offenses?

BYU comes into this matchup No. 3 in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 14.6 points per game. The Cougars haven’t faced an offensive attack like UCF this season, but BYU has kept all of its opponents this season under their scoring average.

UCF is 78th nationally in scoring defense, allowing 31.4 points per game. This game has the makings of being a high-scoring game, especially if BYU’s defense cannot get off the field on third downs. The Cougar defense is 78th nationally in allowing first downs this season.

The highest scoring BYU bowl game of all-time was six years ago in Florida against Memphis in the Miami Beach Bowl when the two teams combined for 101 points. Tuesday night’s matchup could put that record at risk.

#3 Motivation

Games in the bowl season, especially in 2020, will often be determined by the team that is motivated to be in the game. Both teams appear to be motivated to end their 2020 seasons on a high note coming into this matchup.

For BYU, the Cougars are looking to get an 11-win season for the first time since 2009. UCF is trying to cap off a three-loss season with a win over a top-15 team in the polls that could give them off-season hype going into 2021.

BYU quarterback Zach Wilson said he will prepare and continue doing what he’s done all year for this game. The talented quarterback could have opted out of the game, but he wanted to finish off this season with his boys.

UCF’s Gabriel grew up not liking BYU because his dad was a former Hawaii quarterback during the heyday of the BYU-Hawaii rivalry. So Gabriel has some personal motivation that could carry over to his teammates in this matchup.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m., KSL Newsradio). Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper and the KSL Sports app.

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Three Storylines That Could Determine Winner Of BYU/UCF Game