SMU falls short to No. 15 UCF 17-13 on frigid day

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 7, 2013 at 4:38 pm •  Published: December 7, 2013

DALLAS (AP) — SMU receiver Keenan Holman figures the warm-weather foes from UCF didn't have to adjust to a bitterly cold day any more than his Mustangs.

It was just plain frigid for both teams, and the Knights found a way to persevere.

Blake Bortles threw for 242 yards and ran for two touchdowns, and No. 15 UCF celebrated a BCS bid already in hand by adding the outright American Athletic Conference title to the mix. The 17-13 victory Saturday came in front of just a few hundred fans who braved the slick roads of a nasty ice storm.

"It's 20 degree weather," said Holman, who scored SMU's only touchdown. "Unless you live in Green Bay, you ain't ready for this. I feel like both teams were on an even playing field."

The Knights were a little sluggish early but said it had nothing to do with the school's first sub-freezing game.

"My hand got a little dry and that might explain a couple of errant throws," said Bortles, who put UCF ahead for the first time on a 15-yard scramble to a touchdown that ended up being the final points late in the third quarter. "But no excuses. Weather really didn't have much of an impact on me."

Surrounded by piles of ice cleared from the field in a scene more suitable for Green Bay or Denver and with completely empty stands behind their bench, the Knights (11-1, 8-0 AAC) set a school record with their eighth straight win.

UCF wrapped up the conference's automatic BCS bid when Louisville beat Cincinnati on Thursday. This is the school's second 11-win season, both in the past four seasons, in the program's 34-year history.

The Knights, who went 11-3 in 2010 and beat Georgia in the Liberty Bowl, passed around the conference championship trophy in a much warmer locker room while the Mustangs held senior day ceremonies on the frigid field after the game.

"Everybody's excited," UCF safety Brandon Alexander said. "A lot of people haven't won a championship, me being one of them."

SMU (5-7, 4-4) saw its record bowl streak end at four seasons in the coldest home game in school history — 24 degrees at kickoff. It matched the 1983 Sun Bowl in El Paso as SMU's coldest game.

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