For the fifth time in history, the UCF football team is headed to the Tampa Bay area for a postseason bowl game, this time to play in the Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl against the Florida Gators.

UCF (8-4) will meet Southeastern Conference representative Florida (6-6) at 7 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021, in 40,277-seat Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, in the Gasparilla Bowl.

“We’re excited to be playing in the Gasparilla Bowl against a quality in-state opponent like Florida. This is a great opportunity for our fans being right down the road at a place our program has had a lot of success. We’re really looking forward to heading over to Tampa, said UCF head coach Gus Malzahn


It’s a program-record sixth consecutive postseason bowl appearance for the Knights, the ninth in 10 seasons, and the 13th in 17 years. UCF also previously played in the NCAA Division II playoffs in 1987 and in the NCAA FCS Playoffs in 1990 and 1993.

The Knights have played twice each in the Fiesta Bowl (following 2014 and 2018 seasons), Liberty Bowl (2007 and 2010) and St. Petersburg Bowl (2009 and 2014) and once each in the Hawaii Bowl (2005), Beef O’Brady’s Bowl (2012), Cure Bowl (2016), Peach Bowl (2017), Gasparilla Bowl (2019) and Boca Raton Bowl (2020).

This will be the seventh time UCF has played a bowl game in the state of Florida—after three previous appearances in the St. Petersburg/Beef O’Brady’s game and one each in the Cure Bowl in Orlando, the Gasparilla Bowl and the Boca Raton Bowl.

The Gasparilla Bowl has been played since 2008—in 2008-09 as the St. Petersburg Bowl, 2010-13 as the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl, 2014 as the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl, 2015-16 as the St. Petersburg and since 2017 as the Gasparilla Bowl (with UCF playing in the game in 2009, 2012, 2014 and 2019). The game originally was played at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg and moved to Tampa and Raymond James Stadium in 2018.

UCF head coach Gus Malzahn has seen his teams qualify for postseason bowl games in all 10 years he has been a head coach, including six appearances in New Year’s Day games: 2013 in BCS National Championship Game vs. Florida State, 2014 in Outback Bowl vs. Wisconsin, 2015 in Birmingham Bowl win vs. Memphis, 2016 in Sugar Bowl vs. Oklahoma, 2017 in Peach Bowl vs. UCF, 2018 in Music City Bowl win vs. Purdue and 2019 Outback Bowl vs. Minnesota. Malzahn’s 2012 Arkansas State team qualified for a bowl game—but he already had accepted the head coaching job at Auburn and did not coach the bowl game. He also did not coach the Auburn bowl game after the 2020 season after leading the Tigers to the Citrus Bowl vs. Northwestern. Malzahn was 0-1 against Florida during his tenure at Auburn—with the 10th-rated Gators defeating the Tigers 24-13 in Gainesville in 2019.

UCF and Florida will meet for the third time following two previous games played at Florida—with the Gators recording wins by counts of 42-0 in 2006 and 58-27 in 1999. The two programs also are slated to meet on Oct. 5, 2024, in Gainesville, Sept. 14, 2030, in Orlando and Sept. 3, 2033, in Gainesville.

This marks the fifth time UCF has faced a current Southeastern Conference member in a bowl game—following wins over Auburn (Peach Bowl in 2017) and Georgia (Liberty in 2010) and losses to LSU (Fiesta in 2018) and Mississippi State (Liberty in 2007). UCF’s lone regular-season win over an SEC team is a victory at Alabama in 2000.

Why purchase your Gasparilla Bowl tickets through UCF?
As part of our contract with the Gasparilla Bowl, UCF is required to purchase a large number of tickets in Raymond James Stadium. Fans who purchase bowl tickets directly from UCF will financially support the program by maximizing bowl revenue to the University.

Fans who purchase through UCF will be guaranteed seating in Raymond James Stadium among other UCF fans. A large showing at bowl games helps to strengthen UCF’s candidacy for major bowl selections now and in the future. Bowl season is an important opportunity to continue to show the country how passionate UCF fans are!

Gasparilla Bowl Ticket Information
Fans have until Tuesday, December 7th at 5 p.m. to request tickets using their priority ranking.

  • Tickets are assigned based on the UCF priority point system.
  • In the event the number of tickets sold exceeds the ticket allotment in any given area, reductions in orders or relocation to the next best available seats may take place.
  • There is no limit to the number of tickets you may request, however only the first 8 tickets will be assigned using priority points. Any additional purchases will be seated AFTER all other priority seating is completed and will not be seated together.
  • If you wish to be seated with other individuals, ALL individuals in your party must make a request using the link below. Seating will be assigned based on the LOWEST point member in the group. You can view your priority points HERE.
  • All sales are final, no refunds or exchanges will be available. Due to time constraints no other seating requests will be accepted.

High call volumes are expected, so all fans are strongly encouraged to purchase their tickets online here. Fans calling in to purchase tickets, at 407-823-1000, will experience longer wait times than usual. Thank you for your understanding. 

Here are details of UCF’s previous postseason appearances (5-7 in bowl games, 5-10 overall):
— 1987—Troy defeated UCF 31-10 in NCAA Division II Playoffs
— 1990—Georgia Southern defeated UCF 44-7 in NCAA FCS Playoffs
— 1993—Youngstown State defeated UCF 56-30 in NCAA FCS Playoffs
— 2005—Nevada defeated UCF 49-48 in Hawaii Bowl
— 2007—Mississippi State defeated UCF 10-3 in Liberty Bowl
— 2009—Rutgers defeated UCF 45-24 in St. Petersburg Bowl
— 2010—UCF defeated Georgia 10-6 in Liberty Bowl
— 2012—UCF defeated Ball State 38-17 in Beef O’Brady’s Bowl
— 2013—#15 UCF defeated #6 Baylor 52-42 in Fiesta Bowl
— 2014—NC State defeated UCF 34-27 in St. Petersburg Bowl
— 2016—Arkansas State defeated UCF 31-13 in Cure Bowl
— 2017—#12 UCF defeated #7 Auburn 34-27 in Peach Bowl
— 2018—#11 LSU defeated #7 UCF 40-32 in Fiesta Bowl
— 2019—UCF defeated Marshall 48-25 in Gasparilla Bowl
— 2020—#13 BYU defeated UCF 49-23 in Boca Raton Bowl
Bold indicates previous UCF appearances in Tampa/St. Petersburg games

Here are details of bowl qualifications by previous Gus Malzahn-coached teams:
–*2012—Northern Illinois defeated Arkansas State 38-20 in Bowl
–2013—#1 Florida State defeated #2 Auburn 34-31 in BCS Championship Game (Rose Bowl)
–2014—#17 Wisconsin defeated #19 Auburn 34-31 in OT in Outback Bowl
–2015—Auburn defeated Memphis 31-10 in Birmingham Bowl
–2016—#7 Oklahoma defeated #14 Auburn 35-19 in Sugar Bowl
–2017—#12 UCF defeated #7 Auburn 34-27 in Peach Bowl
–2018—Auburn defeated Purdue 63-14 in Music City Bowl
–2019—#18 Minnesota defeated #12 Auburn 31-24 in Outback Bowl
–*2020—#15 Northwestern defeated Auburn 35-19 in Citrus Bowl
Bold indicates previous Malzahn appearances in Tampa/St. Petersburg games
*Malzahn’s teams qualified, but he did not coach in the postseason following the 2012 and 2020 seasons.