Dec. 2, 2007
Orlando, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - The UCF football team found out its opponent for the 2007 AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Sunday as the Mississippi State Bulldogs accepted an offer from bowl officials to play in the Dec. 29 contest in Memphis, Tenn. The Knights earned the right to play in the contest at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium following Saturday's 44-25 victory over Tulsa in the 2007 Bright House Networks Conference USA Championship Game.
"We are very excited to be going to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl and to hear that we are playing a good Mississippi State football team," UCF head coach George O'Leary said. "(Mississippi State head coach) Sylvester Croom has done a great job with the program there. They are playing very well right now and we are looking forward to the match-up."
The teams have met only once previously on the gridiron when Mississippi State defeated the Knights, 35-28, during the 1997 in Starkville.
The contest will feature a match-up of head coaches who are both in the fourth year of their tenures at UCF and Mississippi State, respectively. The two head coaches have also previously worked together as assistant coaches with the San Diego Chargers from 1992-1993.
"I have always had a great respect for Sylvester Croom," O'Leary added. "He had a great college career under Bear Bryant at Alabama and has made a nice transition from coaching in the pros to the college ranks. He has done a wonderful job with the program at Mississippi State and it is obvious Sylvester knows what it takes to win."
O'Leary, who was named the C-USA Coach of the Year by the league's media last week, guided the Knights to their first 10-win season since 1990. UCF extended its program-best winning streak to seven games with their triumph over the Golden Hurricane in the league title game.
Croom has his 7-5 squad in the program's first bowl game since an appearance in the 2000 Independence Bowl. For the Bulldogs, this will be their third trip to the Liberty Bowl. Mississippi State lost to Air Force, 38-15, in what was the highest-attended Liberty Bowl to date in 1991 (61,497). The Bulldogs defeated NC State, 16-12, in the 1963 game.
The Knights will be playing in a bowl game for the second time in school history. UCF played Nevada in the 2005 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl in O'Leary's second year at the school.
Tickets for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl are available on-line at www.ucfathletics.com or calling the UCFAA ticket office at 407-823-1000. Kick time is set for 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
For the latest news and information on the Knights, tickets or apparel log on to www.UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. Also check out UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports photos.