Each week, a few staff contributors will answer five questions regarding the upcoming events in UCF Knights sports. It’s a way to get the staff to come together as well as the rest of Knights Nation, to see if they agree or disagree with the crew at BGB.
Today, Jeremy Brener, Jeff Sharon, and Derek Warden take their seats at the roundtable to answer this today’s upcoming War on I-4 against the USF Bulls.
1. Does the opponent make this game any more different or meaningful than any other game previously?
Jeremy Brener: UCF comes in every week against a faceless opponent. The motto this season has been 1-0. It’s not about what you’ve done before, it’s not about what’s coming ahead, it’s about the here & now. The Knights truly believe that they can beat anyone they face so why does it matter if it is a team from West Florida over any other team. It doesn’t matter who they play, they go in with the mindset that they are going to win.
Jeff Sharon: Well, no, other than if they lose, the whole season comes to a screeching halt. So maybe, yeah? Funny how it used to be the other way around. But now, I think the players and coaches look at USF as a speed bump rather than an obstacle. But the fans, of course, look at it a different way.
Derek Warden: Yes. They are our rival, and you always want to beat your rival no matter how good or bad your season has gone. For our players, this not just another chance to go 1-0, but a chance to for payback for the end of the 2016 game where S. Florida scored a meaningless touchdown with seconds remaining in order to run up the score. For the fans, it’s bragging rights next Monday at work if we win AND if we take over RayJay.
2. Will USF be more motivated about this game given last year’s result?
Jeremy Brener: Absolutely. It’s one of the most painful losses the team has experienced. It stings and the Bulls from last year’s team want the Knights to feel that same pain. And this year, the Knights have WAY more to lose than the Bulls, so it might hurt even worse if UCF comes out of this game with the loss.
Jeff Sharon: I watched last week’s game against Temple and that team looks mentally fragile. They were up 17-0, and as soon as Temple showed signs of life, you could see the wind come out of their sails. After four straight losses, I think their motivation comes from trying to salvage this season, rather than anything that happened last year.
Derek Warden: Getting off their 4-game slide and showing some fight is probably more important to the school out west than avenging last year’s loss. I think they know they’re just not as good as UCF and will be playing to not get blown out.
3. Who does UCF need to look out for on the other side?
Jeremy Brener: Tyre McCants is a stud, definitely someone to look out for. He’s probably the one player that can keep up with UCF’s high-octane offense on the other side of the ball. If the Bulls utilize McCants properly, it could pressure the Knights.
Jeff Sharon: Tyre McCants is still there. He was all over the place last year (9 catches for 227 yards and a TD), and even though he hasn’t exactly been the Bulls’ premiere target this year, we know what he’s capable of. It would be nice to put a body on him.
Derek Warden: They should be mindful of their thicc wide receiver McCants (#8), who torched us last year. They have a good run game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to go back to the well that worked for them last year.
4. Should this rivalry be given a lot more attention nationally or do you believe it is right where it should be?
Jeremy Brener: Given how last year’s game went, it should have more attention. However, I don’t believe this year’s game will match the hype of last year’s. I can’t imagine the game being super tight or having the same atmosphere as last year’s game had. So I think it’s right where it should be.
Jeff Sharon: If you asked me this last year, I would have said the latter. But after last year’s barnburner and the TV audience it drew, I’d say it’s right where it should be in terms of intensity. Now, if only South Florida would uphold their end of the bargain and be consistent, that would be great.
Derek Warden: This is a good rivalry, but outside of last year, there haven’t been any real games where both teams were really good. We need a few more games last 2017 where both teams are either ranked or close to it before this can be considered a nationally relevant rivalry. But, there is a reason the hashtag #usfhateweek exists.
5. Score & attendance prediction. How much of the crowd will be Knights’ fans and how much will be Bulls’ fans?
Jeremy Brener: 40-21, UCF Knights. I think it will be 55-45 UCF fans. The team simply has the fanbase’s attention way more than USF does right now.
Derek Warden: UCF 48, Cows 24. Attendance: USF claims 65K, actual turnstile count 50K in keeping with their habit of over-reporting their attendance by ~30%. Additionally, the fact that they are urging their fans to takeover RayJay means they have already taken one “L” in the attendance game.
Jeff Sharon: Knights pull ahead early and don’t look back. 48-21. I’ll say numbers-wise it will be right on 50/50, but it will sound like a UCF takeover after the first quarter or so.