Down 35-31 with exactly three minutes left on a Friday night in Louisville five years ago, Blake Bortles and UCF Football marched 75 yards for a game-winning touchdown against the undefeated, #8-ranked, and 14-point favorite Louisville Cardinals and into the national football consciousness.
Here it is again, as it happened:
It’s still called “The Drive” among UCF fans.
11 plays, 75 yards, 2:37. Two third-down conversions. Two huge in-routes to Josh Reese. Bortles to Godfrey.
The drive that launched a quarterback from Oviedo High School into the NFL, and a program into a spotlight it had been craving for years.
Sleeping Giants no more.
I was at the Ale House in Oviedo with Eric Lopez and a few other friends. My wife, pregnant at that time with my son, left at halftime, just before Louisville jumped out to a 28-7 lead. All was lost.
Then: Touchdown, fumble, touchdown again, and suddenly, it was within reach.
What’s forgotten about this game was UCF actually took a 31-28 lead before Teddy Bridgewater drove his Cardinals 88 yards in nine plays and 4:36 for what the Cardinal Faithful must have thought would be their signature drive en route to a possible BCS berth.
But Blake Bortles and UCF had other ideas.
The final moments, from our perspective, sitting at the Ale House:
Final: UCF 38, #8 Louisville 35.
UCF went on to win The American and the Fiesta Bowl, and burst through the door of major college football once and for all.
In some ways, the idea for this site, at least from my end, was hatched in that moment. But more importantly, UCF had made it. Even after the disaster of 2015, we all knew what is happening now, 19-game winning streak and all, was closer than ever.
Still seems crazy that it was just five years ago.