BULLS – GOAL LINE STAND : UCF
By Leo Haggerty
Archived under Featured Articles – College & University of South Florida
USF travels down I-4 to take on UCF at Spectrum Stadium this Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 pm EST.
South Florida crawls into the contest coming off a 49-10 thrashing at the hands of Memphis. That home loss dropped the Bulls, in the midst of a three-game losing streak, to 4-7 overall and 2-5 in the American Athletic Conference East Division.
Central Florida, on the other hand, is coming into the tilt after squeaking by Tulsa 34-31. The road victory moved the Knights to 8-3 on the season and 5-2 in the AAC East.
Can USF beat UCF? Yes, but the Bulls must play almost a perfect game and it starts with successfully navigating my four keys to victory.
The explanations below will be brief but concise. They are also vital if the Green & Gold expect to bring the War on I-4 trophy back to Tampa.
1ST DOWN – WEATHER THE EARLY STORM
I can almost guarantee you that UCF HC Josh Heupel will have a loop running of when USF, in 2016, punched in a meaningless TD with just seconds left in a game where South Florida had the contest well in hand. The Bulls should have taken a knee but, for whatever reason, threw salt in the wound and created some bad karma between the two programs.
Well, what goes around comes around and payback is a bitch. The Knights are going to try and blow the Bulls out of the building starting with the opening kickoff. Then, Central Florida will attempt to drop 50 points on the Green & Gold. Preferably closer to a hundred.
USF must get through the initial blitzkrieg. If the Bulls don’t, it will be a LONG night in O-Town.
2ND DOWN – COACH SMART
USF HC Charlie Strong and his staff cannot make the obvious errors they made last week against Memphis. The South Florida brain trust must have one idea in mind and that’s keep the game manageable in the first 30 minutes.
The Bulls must coach the first half to get to the second half. An example is taking the football instead of deferring at the coin toss. There’s no sense getting the pigskin first in the second half trailing 35-7.
USF must come out of halftime no worse than down single digits. That way the Green & Gold has a punchers chance in the final 30 minutes.
If the UCF advantage is 10 or more points, the horses have left the barn. It won’t be a matter of whether the Knights win. It will be a matter of by how much.
3RD DOWN – PLAY SMART
OK, it’s the last week of the season. Let’s not fool ourselves that the guys in the other color jersey don’t know what the strengths and weaknesses of the Bulls happen to be. So let’s put it out there, shall we?
USF must run the football. They must run it early and often and, when they think UCF knows it’s coming, run it some more.
If the Bulls have to depend on the arm of QB Jordan McCloud, the game is over before it starts. #12 may turn into the guy but, right now, he’s just not ready for that assignment.
The Green & Gold must protect their quarterback by effectively running the football. If South Florida can’t, it’ll get ugly early.
4TH DOWN – WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE
This is a must do. South Florida must have more takeaways than Central Florida. Period.
If USF becomes a turnover machine, the party’s over. If the Green & Gold can force the Knights into miscues, they have a shot.
So, time for my predict and it’s not pretty. Central Florida will be motivated to embarrass South Florida and, sadly, I think they will. UCF, 62-20, in an old fashioned butt whipping.
Will I be right? Meet you at the TV tomorrow night to see. Enjoy.