Gus Malzahn: Winning Gasparilla Bowl is UCF's first step toward College Football Playoff

UCF and Knight Nation are getting ready to invade Tampa for the Gasparilla Bowl.

They’ll face Georgia Tech at Raymond James Stadium.

UCF had an up-and-down season, kicking off conference play with five-straight losses, but the Knights gained momentum towards the end of the regular season, going 3-1 in their final four games.

UCF receiver Ryan O'Keefe, left, shows off his MVP trophy and coach Gus Malzahn proudly displays the Gasparilla Bowl trophy their 29-17 win against Florida at Raymond James Stadium on Dec. 23, 2021. (Willie J. Allen Jr./Orlando Sentinel/Trib

The Knights are happy to be representing the Big 12 in their bowl game, but they do have their eyes set on the College Football Playoff next season. The playoff field is currently set at four teams. It’ll expand to 12 next year.

Malzahn said winning the Gasparilla Bowl is the first step the team needs to take towards reaching that goal.

"Our guys, they can really see that next year if we can keep our core group together, we’ll have a real chance. So there’s a lot of excitement in our building. This bowl game is really important to keep that momentum going," Malzahn said.


UCF's Gus Malzahn blasts College Football Playoff for snubbing FSU: 'That's a bad look for football'

Undefeated FSU was left out of the College Football Playoff – a move that left UCF football head coach Gus Malzahn "disappointed" in the sport as a whole.

Georgia Tech’s head coach Brent Key is a familiar face around UCF. He was an assistant coach with the Knights from 2005-2015.

The Gasparilla Bowl will kick off at 6:30 p.m. on December 22.

WHAT TO KNOW: UCF to face Georgia Tech in Gasparilla Bowl

UCF said the first allotment of tickets for this game is already sold out, but they're asking for more tickets.