Jacksonville Sports Day

SHOWDOWN: UCF, USF Meet in State’s Most Meaningful Game

ORLANDO – USF will close out the regular season against UCF with the ninth installment of the War on I-4 in Orlando on Friday.

The matchup is a battle of the No. 1 Offense and No. 2 Defense (UCF) in The American and the No. 1 Defense and the No. 4 Defense (S. Florida) in conference.

The Knights are ranked 12th and 13th in the national polls this week. The Coaches Poll ranking of 12th is the highest ever in-season ranking for UCF.   USF is ranked for a school record 17th consecutive week and is one of three teams in The American to appear in the Top 25: No. 22/19 USF, No. 13/12 UCF (10-0) and No. 17/16 Memphis (9-1).

The schools will be playing for The American East Division crown and a ticket to the American Championship game Dec. 2. USF has never won a conference division or overall title in the program’s 21 years.

In his first stint as a head coach, Scott Frost took over a winless UCF team from 2015 and turned it into a 6-7 squad that earned a bowl berth in 2016.

The Knights have continued that momentum and then some, starting the 2017 season 10-0. Since 1996, when UCF entered FBS play. UCF’s 10-0 start is the first in program history.

The previous best was a 5-0 start to the 1988 season, back when UCF played NCAA Division II football. The Knights’ current 10-game winning streak is a program record, topping the nine straight wins from 2013.

The Knights’ offense has been even better than that in 2017, leading the nation in scoring with 48.6 points per game. UCF is one of just 11 teams in the nation to be in the Top 30 in both scoring offense and scoring defense.

Having scored 30 or more points in each of their first 10 games of the season, the Knights own the longest current streak of games with 30+ points at 10.

UCF’s McKenzie Milton has been impressive in his sophomore season and currently ranks second in the nation in passing efficiency (186.1), completion percentage (.696) and passing yards per attempt (10.61).

QB Quinton Flowers owns 22 USF game, season and career records and is on the verge of nearly 10 more, including the program’s total offense record.

He is second all-time in total offense (10,780), just 95 yards shy of the USF career record set by Matt Grothe (10,875). His 29 career wins are one behind Marquel Blackwell (30) for the most by a USF starting QB.

He owns the rushing TD record (39) and his 63 passing TD are just 4 shy of the record of 67 set by Blackwell. His 3,464 career rushing yards are second all-time at USF, 145 shy of Marlon Mack’s record (3,609).

Established in September of 2016, the War On I-4 Trophy is presented annually to the winner of the rivalry game between two of the nation’s largest universities.

Claimed first by USF in 2016, the traveling trophy measures 4-foot-3-inches in height and weighs 160 pounds with a detachable, pewter replica of the iconic I-4 road sign.

The two different sides of the road sign are emblazoned with “Tampa” and “Orlando,” representing the metropolitan areas that together form the fourth largest media market in the nation and are connected by 100 short miles of Florida Interstate I-4.

South Florida outscored UCF 17-0 in points off turnovers in last year’s War On I-4 matchup. That ended up being the biggest difference in the contest, as the Bulls took a 17-point win over the Knights 48-31 at Raymond James Stadium.

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