Atlanta — McKenzie Milton wanted to throw a blanket of 13 wins and no losses over the College Football Playoff.
After Milton and Central Florida capped a perfect season, he suggested it was time to respect the Knights, even if they weren’t invited to the playoff.
Milton threw two touchdown passes and ran for 116 yards with another touchdown, leading No. 10 UCF to a 34-27 Peach Bowl win over No. 7 Auburn on Monday.
Then it was time to boast.
“I said on the podium you can go ahead and cancel the playoffs,” Milton said. “I’m not changing my mind.”
UCF (13-0) led 34-20 before having to stop a late Auburn comeback. Antwan Collier’s interception in the end zone with 24 seconds remaining clinched the win.
The UCF players launched a joyous postgame celebration, rolling around in confetti on the field while wearing T-shirts that read “Champions.”
The Knights won in their final game with coach Scott Frost, who stayed with the team through the bowl game after accepting an offer to become coach at Nebraska, his alma mater. Frost will bring most of his UCF assistants to Nebraska.
“It was the right thing to do to come coach these guys,” Frost said, holding the game ball. “I’m not happy for me. I’m so happy for these guys.”
The Knights thought they deserved a higher ranking after winning the American Athletic Conference and leading the nation in scoring. They made a strong statement by beating Auburn (10-4).
Frost said “it wasn’t right” for UCF to not receive more consideration for the four-team playoff.
“They deserve more credit from the committee than they got,” he said.
Auburn was held to 90 yards rushing on 44 carries.
“That was probably the main stat that was disappointing for me,” Tigers coach Gus Malzahn said.
No. 14 Notre Dame 21, No. 16 LSU 17: Myles Boykin scored on a 55-yard touchdown pass with 1:28 remaining and Notre Dame got its first win in a New Year’s Day bowl since 1994. Three plays after Jack Gonsoulin’s 17-yard field goal gave the Tigers a 17-14 lead with 2:03 remaining, Boykin caught a pass from Ian Book with his right hand at the LSU 33, managed to elude corner Donte Jackson and then broke a tackle attempt by John Battle up the right sideline for the winning score.
Boykin, a junior who saw increased playing time because of suspensions to two Notre Dame receivers, had three receptions for 102 yards and was named MVP. Book, who entered the game in the second quarter, was 14 of 19 for 164 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Brandon Wimbush was Notre Dame’s quarterback for the first five series and struggled, including three-and-outs on his last three series.
He connected with Equanimeous St. Brown for a 35-yard completion on the first play of the game, but the opening drive stalled at the LSU 31 when Josh Adams was stopped for a 3-yard loss on fourth-and-1.
The Fighting Irish (10-3) trailed 14-6 early in the fourth quarter but tied it on a 6-yard Michael Young reception and two-point conversion to Josh Adams. The win breaks a nine-game losing streak by Notre Dame in bowls either designated as a New Year’s Six or played on Jan. 1.
In a game expected to be dominated by the running backs, both quarterbacks played well. LSU’s Danny Etling was 19 of 33 for 229 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Derrius Guice. Guice had 98 yards on 21 carries.
Notre Dame got on the board first when Justin Yoon made a 46-yard field goal with four seconds remaining in the second quarter. LSU (9-4) took a 7-3 lead with 11:37 remaining in the third when Guice caught a 20-yard touchdown from Etling after the Tigers recovered a punt that bounced off an Irish’s player leg.
After a Yoon 49-yard field goal brought Notre Dame within one, Guice extended the lead to 14-6 less than four minutes into the fourth on a 2-yard pass from Etling.
Johnson holds off on NFL
Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson isn’t quite ready to call his college career complete.
Not long after the Tigers lost the Peach Bowl, Johnson didn’t want to look to the future just yet.
He already has drawn plenty of attention in the NFL after being named the Southeastern Conference offensive player of the year, but the junior from Huntsville stopped short of saying he’s ready to apply for early entry for the draft.
“I’ve got to think about the positives and negatives and all that stuff,” he said.
“That’s a life choice. There’s only a few times that you get a life choice. College is one, and this is another. Just got to take time and do it.”
Johnson reported no health issues after rushing 22 times for 71 yards. He scored one touchdown, a 4-yard run midway through the third quarter, but otherwise had a quiet afternoon.
There were concerns last week that Johnson wasn’t recovered from right shoulder and rib injuries he suffered in the win over Alabama in the regular-season finale. He played in the SEC championship game loss to Georgia in a significant amount of pain, finishing with 44 yards rushing on a season-low 13 carries.
Johnson, the powerful back who led the SEC in rushing, scoring and all-purpose yards per game, was neutralized by a Central Florida defense that made stopping him its top priority.
“I thought Kerryon was fairly close to 100 percent today,” Tigers coach Gus Malzahn said. “We didn’t do a very good job blocking up front. There’s a lot of times that — they had some stunts early on and they got us before we got going. I thought Kerryon had some very good runs, some tough runs, and there wasn’t a whole lot of creases like there normally is.”
Auburn led 20-13 after Johnson’s touchdown, but it went three-and-out on its next three possessions and trailed by seven when quarterback Jarrett Stidham threw a pick six with 5:56 remaining.
Its bad tendencies started in the first half when Stidham was sacked five times and Auburn was penalized six times.
“We felt like it was nothing that they were doing specifically,” Stidham said. “It was all self-inflicted. We just challenged each other to come out and play a much better second half, which I think we did at times, but we did not execute the way we should have.”
Tigers linebacker Darrell Williams credited UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton with consistently keeping plays alive, but he blamed himself and his teammates for letting a bowl win slip away.
“We should not have lost this game,” Williams said. “It was not up to our standard. We’ve got to learn from that aspect of it and know you’ve got to win the games you’re supposed to.”