No. 17 USF vs. UCF
When: Sat., 7 p.m.
Where: Bright House Networks Stadium
Some fans want more. Others think it’s time to end. Regardless of how anyone feels, Saturday will be the last time in the foreseeable future that the No. 17 South Florida Bulls will play the Central Florida Knights.
USF is 3-0 against the Knights.
The game has become something that some Bulls players look forward to every year.
“I’m excited about this game,” said junior defensive end George Selvie. “This series started when I was a freshman; we’ve played them every year and won every year. It’s a big rivalry game because they’re right down the street. I know they’re always talking a lot of noise about us, but it’s not about talking — it’s about winning on Saturday.”
Some players said they agreed with Selvie.
“It’s a big rivalry,” said senior linebacker Brouce Mompremier. “Those guys don’t like us, we don’t like them. It’s a big game. We’re practicing hard this week.”
For senior linebacker Tyrone McKenzie, the game is always exciting.
“There are a lot of emotions in this game,” he said. “UCF is a great team, and it’s going to be a great game at Bright House Networks Stadium.”
Others, however, are indifferent to the ending of the series.
“I don’t think it really matters,” said junior quarterback Matt Grothe. “We’ve played well against them the last three years and we’re going to try and make it a fourth this year.”
USF coach Jim Leavitt said he is looking beyond the rivalry.
“It’s a big game this Saturday,” he said. “We’re just excited about playing a good football team who won a conference championship.”
While the players may disagree as to whether the series should continue, they were in agreement about one thing: the team’s desire to win.
“(Winning) is very important to us because it’s a win on our schedule,” Mompremier said. “We want to win every game. That, and it’s the last game of the series so we want to win that much more.”
McKenzie said there is some added pressure to win because it is the final time the teams will meet.
“It’s huge,” McKenzie said. “It’s my senior year and my last opportunity, and you don’t want to let down all of the other seniors who have been in this situation.”
If the Bulls are feeling added pressure, however, defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said he hasn’t seen it.
“They haven’t been any more intense than they have been,” Burnham said. “They know we’re playing Central Florida, I can guarantee you that. You don’t have to remind them of that.”
Last season, USF beat UCF 64-12 at Raymond James Stadium. Selvie, however, said that last year’s win is no indication of this year’s results.
“They’re going to be ready to play. They’ve been saying they don’t want to get beat like that again,” Selvie said. “That was embarrassing. They’re going to remember that and come out ready to play. We’ve got to get ready, too.”
Though the Bulls won 64-12 last season, the first two games of the series were decided by a combined 24 points. Grothe led the Bulls in a game-winning drive to leave Orlando with a 24-17 win in 2006.
Both coaches said that anything could happen Saturday.
“They are a good football team,” UCF coach George O’Leary said in a press release. “We had an opportunity two years ago and fell short. I feel like this is a big attitude game.”
Even though the Bulls host No. 14 Kansas Sept. 12. — a Friday night game being played on ESPN — Leavitt said the Bulls will not lose focus on the task at hand.
“Whoever we play each week is our focus,” Leavitt said. “We’re not thinking about anybody else. That doesn’t change around here. You better be focused on the task at hand or whoever you play next week, because that’s the biggest game of your life.”