NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Central Florida

UCF stays close to home to face off against Georgia Tech in a battle of plucky upstarts in the Gasparilla Bowl, played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Knights managed to push through and become the only Big 12 newcomer to reach bowl eligibility after winning three of their final four games. After dropping a heartbreaking 24-23 loss to Texas Tech on Nov. 18, running back RJ Harvey rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-13 win over Houston to reach the postseason. 

The Yellow Jackets had an even crazier path to bowl eligibility, upsetting previously ranked Miami and North Carolina and giving No. 1 Georgia a scare late. Despite playing one of the nation's top rushing defenses, GT ran for more than 200 yards against the rival Bulldogs in a 31-23 loss. The bowl game is a perfect opportunity to build momentum for next season. 

Georgia Tech and UCF played each other twice in the past four seasons. The Knights beat the Yellow Jackets in both matchups, including a 27-10 victory in Orlando in 2022. While not every player has announced, UCF and Georgia Tech have fewer than five major contributors expected to opt out of the bowl game. UCF cornerback Corey Thornton is the biggest loss after ranking top 10 on the team in tackles. However, the vast majority of playmakers should participate in the bowl game. 

Follow along with LIVE bowl game updates as Georgia Tech and UCF face off in the Gasparilla Bowl

How to watch Gasparilla Bowl live

Date: Friday, Dec. 22 | Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Location: Raymond James Stadium -- Tampa, Florida
TV: ESPN | Live stream: Fubo (Try for free)
For a limited time, new subscribers can save $20 on Fubo's Pro, Elite and Premier plans.

Georgia Tech vs. UCF: Need to know

High motivation: The level of motivation can be a major driver in bowl game interest, but both Georgia Tech and UCF should be excited to play. The Yellow Jackets have not played in a bowl game since 2018 but managed to get there behind first-year coach Brent Key. UCF has played in bowls over the past few years, but a win in the Gasparilla Bowl, just 100 miles from campus, would clinch a winning record in the Knights' first season as a power institution. Expect this game to be competitive and thrilling. 

Fun quarterback battle: The Gasparilla Bowl is a battle of former SEC quarterbacks who have found new life elsewhere. UCF starts former Ole Miss passer John Rhys Plumlee, who is one of the true dual-threats in the sport. Over the past two seasons, he has thrown for 4,500 yards and rushed for 1,300 to lead the Knights. On the other sideline, ex-Texas A&M starter Haynes King is a quarterback to watch in the sport. The first-year starter dealt with some growing pains but ultimately finished with 35 total touchdowns, including two rushing scores against Georgia. Containing their foe will be a tremendous battle for both defenses. 

Defensive gap: Neither defense is especially notable heading into the game, but Georgia Tech's ranks among the worst in the nation. The Yellow Jackets give up more than 30 points per game and rank No. 129 in defensive success rate, including 128th against the rush. UCF fares much better situationally, holding opponents to 25.4 points per game. However, the Knights rank 120th in defensive success rate against the rush -- where Georgia Tech thrives. Expect plenty of points. 

Gasparilla Bowl prediction, picks

Odds via SportsLine consensus

Motivation level often takes center stage in bowl matchups, but the Gasparilla Bowl should be a moment in which both programs are excited to play. Both teams boast dramatic, playmaking quarterbacks with the ability to flip games in an instant. UCF is the favorite, but Georgia Tech should be able to keep pace and make things interesting down the stretch. Pick: Georgia Tech +4.5

Which college football picks can you make with confidence during bowl season? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned well over $2,000 in profit over the past seven-plus seasons -- and find out.