UCF caps unbeaten season in triumph for Group of 5

UCF's defense comes up huge in Peach Bowl win (2:12)

The Knights' defense came up with two clutch interceptions in the 4th quarter to help UCF beat Auburn 34-27 in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. (2:12)

ATLANTA -- UCF didn't beat Auburn 34-27 in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Monday because it was the faster team.

If anything, a footrace would have probably ended in a tie.

Rather, the Knights finished the season undefeated by executing better than the Tigers. They were the more prepared team to start the game, and they were the more poised team throughout, responding to 14 unanswered points to start the second half with 21 unanswered points of their own.

Auburn, which played in fits and starts, struggled to find any consistency offensively. The line faltered time and time again as quarterback Jarrett Stidham was knocked around to the tune of six sacks and many more hurries.

Stidham wasn't without blame, as he threw one pick-six and saw his first-half fumble result in another seven points for UCF. His interception with 24 seconds remaining iced the game.

Adrian Killins Jr., the Knights running back who initially stirred the pot when he said that Auburn hadn't seen any speed like UCF's, was ironically a nonfactor in the win, rushing for 28 yards on 10 carries.

His quarterback, on the other hand, was a different story.

McKenzie Milton was a wizard on the field in Atlanta. The 5-foot-11 sophomore from Hawaii, who already broke the UCF record for passing yards in a season, added to his impressive numbers by consistently escaping pressure from the Auburn defense.

He threw for 242 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 116 yards and a score.

When prognosticators write their lists of dark-horse Heisman Trophy contenders in the coming months, they'll do well to remember Milton's name.

The one looming question for Milton and his teammates is whether they'll be able to replicate the magic of this undefeated season without head coach Scott Frost.

Frost, who agreed to become the next head coach at Nebraska a month ago, pulled double duty by recruiting for the Cornhuskers while coaching for the Knights throughout the bowl process. It was a "tough" process, Frost said, but one that he felt ought to be done out of respect to the players.

Starting Tuesday, this will be Josh Heupel's program. And UCF fans should be excited to see what he can do with Milton & Co.

Heupel spent the last two seasons as offensive coordinator at Missouri, where he helped develop another record-setting quarterback, Drew Lock, who broke the SEC single-season mark for touchdowns passes this season.

UCF, which wasn't able to crack the College Football Playoff despite going undefeated, will have a chance to make an early statement against another Power 5 opponent next season when it opens against ACC foe North Carolina.