UCF opened the scoring with 5:39 to go in the first quarter when quarterback Blake Bortles connected with wide receiver Rannell Hall on a 21-yard touchdown completion to make it 7-0. SMU drew a little closer with 1:18 remaining in the quarter, as kicker Chase Hover booted a 32-yard field goal to cut the margin to 7-3 in favor of the Knights.
In the second quarter, UCF pushed their lead forward early. Running back Latavius Murray toted the ball 23 yards for a touchdown, giving the Knights a clean 14-3 advantage. SMU wouldn't go away quietly, however. Quarterback Garrett Gilbert capped a 15-play, 75-yard drive with a four-yard run for a touchdown, leaving the score at 14-10. UCF added a late score as Murray scored on a 20-yard scamper to make it 21-10.
Both teams were very efficient in the first half. SMU converted five of nine third-down opportunities for first downs, while UCF was three of five in similar situations.