No. 12 UCF Knights Set To Battle No. 19 USF Bulls In ‘The War On I-4’
By UCF Knights // November 24, 2017
3:30 p.m. on ABC
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ORLANDO, FLORIDA (UCFKnights.com) – Throw the records out. The War On I-4 is officially here. On Friday, the UCF football team will face USF at Spectrum Stadium, a contest that will be televised on ABC at 3:30 p.m.
Despite countless battles in other sports, Friday marks just the ninth meeting on the football field between the Knights and the Bulls. In seven of the previous eight meetings, the team with the better record came out victorious.
But there has never been a game of this magnitude in the history of the series.
For the first time in the series, both squads are ranked. No. 12/13 UCF is a perfect 10-0, while No. 19/22 USF comes with a 9-1 record, falling to Houston at home earlier this season. The winner of Friday’s duel will punch their ticket to the American Athletic Conference Championship Game against Memphis.
“I love rivalries. They’re special,” UCF head coach Scott Frost said earlier this week at his press conference. “It adds a little bit to the game, especially when it’s a big game like this one. USF has done their job to wins games and get to this point, and so have we. That makes this game even bigger.”
On top of the postseason implications, the matchup on Friday is a trophy game. Last year, the two schools finally put a name to the rivalry – The War on I-4.
UCF took the 2016-17 all-sports crown, but USF claimed the gridiron trophy with a 48-31 victory in Tampa in then-head coach Willie Taggart’s final game in Tampa.
Charlie Strong took the reins at USF for the 2017 season. At 9-1, the former Louisville and Texas head coach has the Bulls ranked 12th in total offense and 21st in total defense in the nation.
Quarterback Quinton Flowers has been electric this season, throwing for 2,097 yards and 17 touchdowns to go along with 870 yards and nine scores on the ground. The senior is 96 yards of total offense away from breaking the USF record of 10,875 yards in a career.
Frost acknowledged that the defense will have to be on top of its game when going up against Flowers and the potent Bulls offense this weekend.
“He knows what to do with the ball,” he added. “He can make plays with his arm and his legs. He’s really dangerous when things break down. You think you’ve stopped those guys, and he’ll make nine guys miss. He’s created so many big plays in his career there that if we can stop him from making too many big plays, I’ll like where we are in the game.”
UCF will not have a shortage of weapons on Friday either. Quarterback McKenzie Milton is second in the nation in passing efficiency and eighth in total offense with 330.1 yards per game. Wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith and running back Adrian Killins Jr. have combined for 22 touchdowns to lead an arsenal of targets for Milton.
The Knights’ defense, tasked with the duty of keeping Flowers in check, has forced 25 turnovers and allowed only 24 touchdowns. Last week, the Black and Gold tallied five takeaways – four interceptions and one fumble recovery – at Temple.
The Bounce House will be in full effect on Friday with a sold-out crowd expected to watch two of the top teams in The American and in the state of Florida square off with the East Division title on the line.
“I think we’ve had a home-field advantage when it hasn’t been sold out,” Frost said. “If we can get it loud and rocking in there, that gives us an advantage. I’m looking forward to seeing Spectrum Stadium sold out.”
Needless to say, this may be the biggest game ever between UCF and USF.
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