Was there ever a time that UCF’s 24-game winning streak was more in doubt than yesterday’s American Athletic Conference championship game when they faced Memphis? The Knights headed into the AAC title game without starting quarterback McKenzie Milton, who suffered a traumatic knee injury against rival USF the weekend prior. UCF turned to freshman quarterback Darriel Mack Jr. and no one was quite sure what to expect.

Two early fumbles and down 24-7 heading into the second quarter, it looked as if the Knights might’ve been facing their first loss in over two years. The ‘Return of the Mack’ made sure that scenario never played out, as the freshman threw for 348 yards, two touchdowns and ran for four more scores as UCF defeated Memphis 56-41 Saturday evening at Spectrum Stadium.

No. 8 ranked UCF (12-0) now waits until later today when the College Football Playoff committee gathers to decide which four teams will take part in the 4-team playoff format come New Year’s Day. The Knights were snubbed last year and despite the program being ranked higher, it looks as if UCF could be out of the picture once again. UCF athletic director Danny White spoke on the potential outcome after the game.

“There’s been a national conversation for 11 months since UCF won the Peach Bowl and claimed a championship,” White said. “Our football team has now won 25 straight games. They deserve to be in this playoff, and I hope that’s a decision that’s made (Sunday). If that does not occur, I think that’s another pretty glaring example a four-team playoff is not adequate for the postseason.”

All the talk around Orlando on Saturday, however, was centered around UCF’s come-from-behind AAC title victory over Memphis (8-5). Mack Jr. got plenty of help from running back Greg McCrae, who rushed for over 200 yards. Wide receiver Dredrick Snelson has the best game of any Knights’ pass catcher, topping 120 yards on four catches.

About The Author

Andy Villamarzo has covered high school and youth sports for the Tampa Bay Times and The Tampa Tribune as a correspondent since 2008. He is a native of Holiday, FL, who graduated from Gulf High School and studied at St. Petersburg College. He has covered various prep, collegiate and professional athletes throughout his writing career, including Josh Johnson (Jacksonville Jaguars), Patrick Schuster (Arizona Diamondbacks) and currently writes for other publications like The Suncoast News, Friday Night Football Magazine and TopDrawerSoccer.com.

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