Preview: Unbeaten No. 12 Knights test run against No.7 Auburn in Peach Bowl on New Years Day

By Despina Barton, Spectrum Sports
Last Updated: Sunday, December 31, 2017, 3:15 PM EST

Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl

No. 12 UCF Knights (12-0) vs. No. 7 Auburn Tigers (10-3)

When: Monday, 12:30 p.m.

Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta (1414 Andrew Young International Blvd NW)

TV: ESPN (Spectrum Cable Channel 1127)

Coaches: Auburn – UCF – Scott Frost (2nd, 18-7); Gus Malzahn (5th, 45-21);

Line: Auburn -10

About the matchup: Auburn and UCF match up for the third time in the two program’s history on New Years Day in the 50th Anniversary Peach Bowl presented by Chick-Fil-A.

Though not an ideal situation for the Knights, who are transitioning from Scott Frost to Josh Heupel as its new head, but the former staff sticking around making good on its word to coach this undefeated team once more. This week UCF has been relishing in all its practices and bowl activities, as they know Monday will be the final outing all together.

Now the Knights enter Monday’s contest winning 11-straight games in as many weeks and has gotten the rest its needed to battle SEC power Auburn.  Defensive Coordinator Erik Chinander admitting that the team needed to clean up its sloppy defensive errors, after the last two games allowing more than 1,000-yards of offense and gave up 97-points.

As far as the offense the Knights have worked in new wrinkles and formations this week to try and combat Auburn’s smothering defense. OC Troy Walters knows he will not be able to just run up the middle against the Tigers. The offensive line will be critical in keeping sophomore QB McKenzie Milton (3,795-yards, 35 TDs) protected and they’ll do it without their left tackle Aaron Evans, who is out with a back injury.

With a simple eye test it’s easy to tell that Auburn is bigger and taller than the Knights squad and that this is going to be a battle fought in the trenches. Tigers QB Jarrett Stidham (2,827 passing yards, 17 TDs) has options deep and returns a healthy running back in Kerryon Johnson (1320-yards, 17 TDs) this week. Johnson who missed some time due to an ongoing shoulder injury said earlier this week he is back to 100% and may be the largest and most skilled back UCF has seen all year.

As for the defense they will be working without the services of All-American corner Carlton Davis, the Miami native was sent home with an illness.

Now Auburn is very familiar with Atlanta and the Mercedes-Benz Stadium as they fell to Georgia in the SEC Championship just four weeks ago, the team playing with a major chip on its shoulder.

Both teams entering Monday’s contest wanting to prove they belong in the College Football Playoff.

Three and out:

1. There are nine UCF players who were members of the 2014 Fiesta Bowl Championship team.

2. The last time UCF and Auburn met was on Nov. 6, 1999. The Tigers won, 28-10.

3. If UCF upsets Auburn they would set a new record for wins in a season and also prove Panda Yang Yang wrong.