BULLS : GOAL LINE STAND : UCF
By Leo Haggerty
WAR ON I-4
It’s back. In what was considered to be the 2nd best college football game in 2017, USF and UCF clash in what had been dubbed the War on I-4 and rightfully so. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 PM at Raymond James Stadium weather permitting.
Central Florida comes into the tilt as one of the four unblemished teams in all of Division I football. The Knights are 7-0 in the American Athletic Conference East Division and 10-0 on the campaign.
South Florida is in the throngs of a four-game losing streak. The Bulls are 3-4 in the AAC East and 7-4 overall.
You would think the Black & Gold could be a touch overconfident being a double-digit favorite. That won’t happen for two reasons.
First, it’s a rivalry game. Throw the records out because anything can happen and usually does.
Second, the last team to beat UCF in the regular season was USF two years ago. You can bet the mortgage that HC Josh Heupel has reminded his charges of that fact more than once this week.
Below are the four boxes USF needs check to come away with a win. I know that will be tough but, as we’ve seen on too many occasions this season, expect the unexpected. Enjoy.
AVOID THE BLITZKRIEG
For our readers that do not understand German, blitzkrieg mean lightning war. The Central Florida offense is the best example of that in all of college football.
The Black & Gold run plays at breakneck speed. UCF goes so fast that the commentators don’t have time to commentate and, in some cases, that’s a good thing.
The South Florida defenders have to line up immediately and be ready for the quick strike. If they don’t, expect the scoreboard to change faster than a Vegas slot machine on the Central Florida side.
SCORE BUT SCORE SLOWLY
USF must understand this point. UCF can score 28 on God. That means you need to get in the 30s just to be in the conversation.
Yes, the Green & Gold must score but South Florida doesn’t want to get in a shootout. Seven or more play drives by the Bulls will eat time off the clock.
That will limit the number of Central Florida possessions and that will be a huge factor. The Knights offense can’t score if it’s on the bench.
STAY IN THE GAME
Emotions will be running high. There will be a lot of trash-talking going on from both teams.
To be blunt, USF and UCF just don’t like each other. This goes back years and the fact that, recently, both have been fighting to represent the East in the AAC Championship. That has just added fuel to the fire.
No matter what happens, stay in the game. You do your team no good watching the game from the locker room.
COACH ‘EM UP
HC Charlie Strong and his staff must do an exemplary job in preparation this week. Here’s why.
On offense, the Bulls have been decimated by injuries especially at the skilled positions. The offensive staff must come up with a game plan that scores points and controls the clock along with no turnover. A very tall order.
On defense, the staff must emphasize to their charges that lining up quickly is imperative. Then, they have to find a way to make UCF punt or turn it over. The Green & Gold need to steal some possessions, I’m computing at least two, to stay in the game.
Finally, USF cannot allow any special teams scores. That would be fatal as South Florida found out the hard way last season in Orlando
OK, how’s this contest going to turn out? I believe it’s going to be a lot closer than the oddsmakers predict. I think USF hangs in but, in the fourth quarter, the Bulls run out of gas. UCF, 37-31, with a late score.
See you at the RayJay.