Rivalry brewing for the War on I-4

Coach Jim Leavitt couldn’t hold it in anymore. Though his excitement is usually pretty obvious, this Saturday’s game with UCF has Leavitt pretty riled up, which has just been more motivating for his players.

“They were so focused. So focused,” Leavitt said after Thursday’s light practice with no pads. “They were probably more focused today than all week long.”

As Leavitt has been stressing, it won’t be easy against the Golden Knights, who are looking to snap their 16-game losing streak.

“Do you understand how important this game is? They know it’s going to be a hard-fought game.

They know they are going to have to play 60 minutes to have a shot (at winning).”

The Bulls face a UCF defense that gave up 362 yards to South Carolina on Sept. 1, but is anchored by six-foot-seven senior defensive end Paul Carrington, who Leavitt knows “won’t be hard to miss.

“We’ve faced a tough field before. Penn State was just as tough.”

With the kicker position still up in limbo, redshirt freshman Kyle Bronson seems to have taken Mike Benzer’s place for field goals and extra points. Leavitt claims he’ll “probably” go with freshman Justin Teachey for kickoffs.

With USF expecting many walkups on Saturday, after UCF sold all 3,400 tickets allocated by the Athletic Department, Associate Athletic Director Tom Veit said, “It’s a possibility we may open the upper deck again. We’ll be prepared to do it game day if necessary.”

Veit also said that more than 20,000 tickets have already been sold, excluding student sales.

Bull in need: Saturday, in conjunction with the United Way and American Red Cross and spearheaded by former Athletic Director Lee Roy Selmon, donations will be accepted for former USF quarterback Ronnie Banks and his family. Banks, a New Orleans native, and his family lost their home and most of their possessions in the destruction of Hurricane Katrina. Fortunately, all of the Banks family is alive and safe. Fans will be able to make cash donations at the USF Promotions Tent on the South Patio.

NFL Bulls notes: Kawika Mitchell and the Kansas City Chiefs travel to face the Oakland Raiders on ESPN’s Sunday night game at 7:30, while Anthony Henry and the Dallas Cowboys host the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football at 9 p.m.

Just keep digging: The USF volleyball team and the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute have joined together to fight cancer in the “Dig for the Cure” campaign once again.For Friday night’s game against UCF, fans can make a pledge for each dig that USF tallies during its Friday, Nov. 4 match against Cincinnati. This will continue throughout the season at every home volleyball match and is the second consecutive season in which the team raised money by this promotion. Last season, along with the other teams in Conference USA, USF raised over $3,000 for breast cancer research. This season, USF is the only Big East volleyball team raising money for cancer.

The total amount of money that is raised will be announced at the Nov. 16 match against North Florida at The Corral, with all proceeds benefiting the Moffitt Cancer Center.Staying home: USF softball coach Ken Eriksen has decided to take a leave of absence from the USA Softball Team, citing he wanted to spend more time with his family.Eriksen has not decided whether to return to the team to coach pitching for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Spotlight: The Dec. 10 men’s basketball game against Michigan will be televised on ESPN2. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m., the first game of a doubleheader, while the women’s basketball team facing Michigan State at 6 p.m. – Mike Camunas