Bulls want series to continue

As the Bulls prepare to face Central Florida for the third consecutive season, they are hoping this won’t be the final time the Knights visit Raymond James Stadium.

The two schools agreed to play each other four times as part of USF’s agreement to leave Conference USA and join the Big East. The final scheduled meeting takes place next season in Orlando.

“I approach every game the same, but playing UCF is even bigger because of the rivalry, and we know they’re trying to come in here and knock us off,” senior cornerback Trae Williams said. “It’s our third year playing them – the war on I-4 and all that – but we’re not sure if it’s going to be extended.”

Along with the competition between the two programs on the field, a major component of the rivalry between the two teams has come behind the scenes in recruiting.

Both programs are vying for in-state talent – 103 of the 111 players on USF’s team are from Florida.

USF’s ranking has helped tip the favor in its balance, making the game even more important for UCF coach George O’Leary in his attempts to draw talent to his program.

“Of course it matters. If it did not matter, then why do they throw it in your face during recruiting?” O’Leary said during the Conference USA teleconference Monday.

Although USF won first two meetings between the programs, the Knights have already proven they are capable of defeating anyone this year, falling 35-32 to then-ranked No. 6 Texas.

“They’re really fired up – their offense is really going,” defensive end George Selvie said. “I saw them play Texas and that was a scary game. I was like ‘Wow, Central Florida is doing that,’ so we know we have to bring our A game.”

When the Bulls announced a six-game series with the Miami Hurricanes beginning in 2009, their rivalry with UCF may officially come to an end next season.

According to quarterback Matt Grothe, facing the Knights has been one of the more intense games he’s played. The sophomore can’t wait renew the rivalry Saturday.

“To see their fans and our fans, how much their fans wanted them to win, how much our fans wanted to win,” Grothe said. “Hearing some of the comments I could hear behind me in the stands, how much our fans hate theirs, how much their fans hate ours, it’s just building up more and more. It’s exciting. I’m looking forward to Saturday.”

With no new discussions about continuing its series against the Knights, USF players can only hope the series will continue past 2008.

“Florida State plays the Gators and Miami, so I think we can play Miami and UCF every year,” Williams said. “I would continue it. I think it would be a big-time rival like Florida and Miami, games like that.”