ORLANDO – The UCF Knights are staying home for the holidays, officially playing in the AutoNation Cure Bowl at Camping World Stadium on Saturday, December 17th against Arkansas State at 5:30 p.m.

It is an early Christmas present for Knights’ fans, who had been left to fathom possible scenarios of post-season play either out of town or in a time slot that fit very few traveling schedules. Here is a look at the other bowls that UCF had been considered a favorite for:

Miami Beach Bowl – Monday, December 19 2:30 PM

Marmot Boca Raton Bowl – Tuesday, December 20 7:00 PM

Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl – Friday, December 23 1:00 PM

St. Petersburg Bowl – Monday, December 26 11:00 AM

Not one of the four games are played in prime time, and the only “weekend” game is scheduled for a Friday afternoon in another country; not exactly fan friendly. The Boca Raton Bowl stands alone with a decent kickoff time, but an opponent from the MAC does not bring much gravitas to the situation.

Rather, UCF will take advantage of a true home-field advantage in possession of overwhelming fan support, almost non-existent travel fatigue and an early evening kickoff time. It was said for most of the season that if the Knights were to finish in the 5-7 win range that the Cure Bowl would be a dream situation for both the game officials and a university building an entire new football brand identity.

Every party involved will benefit from UCF’s bowl presence in their own backyard. The American Athletic Conference will be able to tout substantial attendance numbers (or at least better than anywhere else UCF could have been assigned), the broadcast will be able to showcase a game that holds intrinsic meaning to the home crowd, and the University will be able to sell their allotted tickets while keeping travel costs low.