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UCF vs. Florida Preview with Former UCF QB Kyle Israel

The first UCF QB to win a conference title discusses the Gasparilla Bowl

Conference USA Championship
Former UCF QB Kyle Israel
Photo by Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Trivia question: Who are the only three UCF Knights QBs to take the field in a game against the Florida Gators?

If one of your answers was Kyle Israel, you’re right. 15 years ago, Israel played quarterback in relief of starter Steven Moffett in Gainesville. Thursday, Israel will be in attendance in Tampa for the game.

The former University High School star and first UCF QB to lead his team to a conference title took some time for us to break down the Gasparilla Bowl matchup between the Knights and the Gators. UCF is a 6.5-point underdog, according to DraftKings.


BGB: What was your reaction to UCF getting a chance to play Florida in a bowl game?

Kyle: This is a fantastic bowl matchup. In an era where games outside of the New Year’s Six and the playoffs simply seem to have no meaning, playing Florida in a bowl such as this is exciting and a great chance to see Knight Nation come out in full force to support the team.

BGB: What is the biggest concern you have about Florida?

Kyle: My biggest concern is the unknown. Florida will undoubtedly have players playing their hardest to make an impression on the new coaching staff. I also get concerned about a limited amount of film being available regarding whatever offensive and defensive schemes Florida may come out in. Lastly, I get concerned about the excuses that will be made when we beat them.

Tulsa v University of Central Florida Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

BGB: What is the key for the Knights’ offense to be successful against the Gators’ defense?

Kyle: I think the main keys are taking a balanced approach and not turning the ball over. We have shown that we can win close, low-scoring games. However, in games of that nature, you can’t hurt yourself. Is Mikey Keene ready to push the ball down the field? Can we run between the tackles effectively? These are things I think we need to do to win.

BGB: What advice would you give Mikey Keene going into the game?

Kyle: Have as much fun as possible. Bowl games are always special, and especially one of this nature: a sold-out stadium against Florida. I think if he goes out there and has fun, plays within himself, and avoids mistakes, he will be fine. But most importantly, ENJOY THE MOMENT!

BGB: What would a win against Florida mean for the program?

Kyle: This wouldn’t mean as much as a regular season game, where both teams had full coaching staffs and full rosters. Florida is reeling a bit. However, beating them in this type of environment would be a huge confidence booster going into the off season, and I think it can help with recruiting. If nothing else, I think this is simply an exciting way to end the season in such a unique matchup.


Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.