"Anytime you have a quarterback like that, that's accurate, that has a strong arm, that's big and can stay out of the pocket, and he can run, it's a very difficult challenge," O'Brien said of Bortles. "He played a great game tonight and I think he's a heck of a player."
Penn State cornerbacks Trevor Williams and Jordan Lucas struggled to keep up with UCF's receivers. They broke up a few plays, but consistently misidentified routes and left tackles unfinished.
"[The receivers] were pretty quick," Williams said. "They were probably the best receivers that we've scene up to this point. The quarterback did a great job throwing the ball and they did a great job catching it."
Bortles soon settled into the pocket as Penn State's front seven failed to pressure him throughout the game. Defensive tackle DaQuan Jones was limited to five tackles after showing good penetration for the first two games of the season. Linebacker Mike Hull played, but he looked hampered by an injury that kept him out of the Eastern Michigan game a week ago.
UCF's offensive line gave Bortles more than enough time to let plays develop. It's the first time Penn State did not record a sack since the Lions lost to Alabama on Sept. 10, 2011.
"It definitely gets to you after a while, but at the same time, you have to knock it off and play football," Jones said.
Defensive coordinator John Butler frantically tried to inspire his anemic defense as they trotted off the field, dejected, drive after drive. He cited UCLA's 31-point comeback against Nebraska earlier Saturday afternoon. The Bruins had been down 21-10 at halftime, but won the game, 41-21.
But even after a botched UCF long snap gave the game life late in the fourth quarter, it didn't fall in Penn State's favor Saturday.
"We tried everything," Butler said. "That's one thing I know I can say, we emptied the game plan."