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For the third consecutive season, the UCF Knights have taken December to go bowling.

Spares and splits are not part of the equation.

While it may not have the luster of last season's Tostitos Fiesta Bowl championship, a win in Friday's Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl would give the Knights a (9-3, 7-1) a third-consecutive bowl victory and the fourth in school history.

Kickoff is at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.

Awaiting them at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg are the Wolfpack of NC State (7-5, 3-5), led by quarterback Jacoby Brissett: a University of Florida transfer.

Related: Is the 2014 UCF defense the best unit O'Leary has had?

"I think it's a good matchup," UCF coach George O'Leary said when the game was announced. "We have some background with NC State in the past, so it will work out really well."

UCF began the month of December by securing a share of the American Athletic Conference championship: which was delivered in the form of a dramatic Hail Mary pass from sophomore quarterback Justin Holman into the hands of junior standout Breshad Perriman for a last-second victory against East Carolina.

Unlike last season, however, not everything went UCF's way in 2014.

After starting the season with a loss to Penn State and another at Missouri, the Knights were in unfamiliar territory. But, the team rebounded and proceeded to win eight of its next nine games.

The Knights are led by a dominant defense, which ranks among the nation's top 10 in scoring and total defense. Sophomore cornerback Jacoby Glenn was named a second team All-American by AP, and was third in the nation with seven interceptions.

Offensively, UCF had an up-and-down season, however. In his first year as the starting quarterback, Holman at times looked the part of an upper-echelon collegiate quarterback and at other times struggled to find the endzone.

The sophomore quarterback finished the year playing some of his best football, and closed the regular season with 23 total touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Meanwhile in the ACC, NC State took their fans on a roller coaster of a ride through its schedule.

The Wolfpack took a 4-0 record into its September tussle with then No. 1 Florida State, and after at halftime, NC State dropped that game, and then lost four of its next seven games.

Brissett was sharp for much of the season and tossed 22 touchdowns to just five interceptions, including going toe-to-toe with former Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.

Related: Bitcoin Bowl: UCF sells out 6,000-ticket allotment

UCF BOWL HISTORY

Jan. 1, 2014 Fiesta Bowl: UCF 52, Baylor 42

Dec. 21, 2012 Beef O' Brady's Bowl: UCF 38, Ball State 17

Dec. 31, 2010 Liberty Bowl: UCF 10, Georgia 6

Dec. 19, 2009 St. Petersburg Bowl: Rutgers 45, UCF 24

Dec. 28, 2007 Liberty Bowl: Mississippi State 10, UCF 3

Dec. 24, 2005 Hawaii Bowl: Nevada 49, UCF 48, OT

NC STATE BOWL HISTORY

Dec. 31, 2012 Music City Bowl: Vanderbilt 38, N.C. State 24

Dec. 27, 2011 Belk Bowl: N.C. State 31, Louisville 24

Dec. 28, 2010 Champs Sports Bowl: N.C. State 23, West Virginia 7

Dec. 29, 2008 PapaJohns.com Bowl:: Rutgers 29, N.C. State 23

Dec. 31, 2005 Meineke Bowl: NC State 14, South Florida 0

Dec. 22, 2003 Tangerine Bowl: N.C. State 56, Kansas 26

Jan. 1, 2003 Gator Bowl: N.C. State 28, Notre Dame 6

Dec. 20, 2001 Tangerine Bowl: Pittsburgh 34, N.C. State 19

Dec. 28, 2000 Micronpc.com Bowl: N.C. State 38, Minnesota 30

Dec. 29, 1998 MICRON PC Bowl: Miami 46, N.C. State 23

Jan. 1, 1995 Peach Bowl: N.C. State 28, Mississippi State 24

Jan. 1, 1994 Hall of Fame Bowl: Michigan 42, N.C. State 7

Dec. 31, 1992 Gator Bowl: Florida 27, N.C. State 10

Jan. 1, 1992 Peach Bowl: East Carolina 37, N.C. State 34

Dec. 28, 1990 All American Bowl: N.C. State 31, Southern Miss. 27

Dec. 31, 1989 Copper Bowl: Arizona 17, N.C. State 10

Dec. 31, 1988 Peach Bowl: N.C. State 28, Iowa 23

Dec. 31, 1986 Peach Bowl: Virginia Tech 25, N.C. State 24

Dec. 23, 1978 Tangerine Bowl: N.C. State 30, Pittsburgh 17

Dec. 31, 1977 Peach Bowl: N.C. State 24, Iowa St. 14

Dec. 31, 1975 Peach Bowl: West Virginia 13, N.C. State 10

Dec. 23, 1974 Bluebonnet Bowl: N.C. State 31, Houston 31, tie

Dec. 17, 1973 Liberty Bowl: N.C. State 31, Kansas 18

Dec. 29, 1972 Peach Bowl: N.C. State 49, West Virginia 13

Dec. 16, 1967 Liberty Bowl: N.C. State 14, Georgia 7

Dec. 21, 1963 Liberty Bowl: Mississippi St. 16, N.C. State 12

Jan. 1, 1947 Gator Bowl: Oklahoma 34, N.C. State 13

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