UCF football accepts Military Bowl invite, will face ACC’s Duke

Following a loss at Tulane in the AAC championship on Saturday, UCF coach Gus Malzahn stressed the importance of the Knights’ opportunity to earn the team’s 10th win of the season in a bowl.

“What’s next is a bowl game and we need to win a bowl game to get some momentum for next year,” Malzahn said after his team fell 45-28 against the Green Wave in New Orleans.

On Sunday, Malzahn and the Knights found out whom and where they’ll be playing in their bowl.

UCF (9-4) accepted an invitation to play in the Military Bowl against Duke (8-4) at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland, on Dec. 28 at 2 p.m., the university announced.

It marks the seventh straight year that UCF will play in a bowl, which extends a program record.

“Bowl games are very important,” Malzahn said. “Just like it was last year. We’ll put everything we can into getting a bowl victory.”

The matchup with Duke will be UCF’s first time meeting the Blue Devils in football. It’s also the first time UCF has played in the Military Bowl.

The bowl has featured an ACC-vs.-AAC matchup since 2014, and those leagues have contracted to continue that matchup through 2025. Previous AAC winners have been Navy in 2015 and 2017 and Cincinnati in 2018.

UCF played in the Cure Bowl in 2016, the Peach Bowl in 2017, the Fiesta Bowl in 2018, the Gasparilla Bowl in 2019, the Boca Raton Bowl in 2020 and the Gasparilla again last year.

This year’s bowl appearance will be UCF’s 10th in the last 11 seasons and the Knights’ 14th in the past 18 years.

“You look at last year and we won a big bowl game and this year we made it to the conference championship,” Malzahn said. “We’re going in the right direction as a program.”

Tickets are on sale at militarybowl.org/tickets.

Email Jason Beede at jbeede@orlandosentinel.com or follow him on Twitter at @therealBeede.