Time of Possession: USF- 33:06 UCF- 26:54
Time of Game: 3 Hours
Announced Attendance: 25,967
USF improves to 5-2 all time in I-4 Corridor Clash rivalry.
Random Factoid: Reverse from last year where USF fans were more visible and louder on television than the home UCF fateful.
Notable USF Stats/Outcomes:
-USF’s sets program record for most conference victories in a single season.
-Ends regular season on four game winning streak and winners of seven of last eight contests.
-Team has scored 402 points this season, tying for second in program history.
-7th game of season where offense has gained 400+ yards.
-Bull Shark Defense’s 15 INTs are 3rd most in program history.
-Bulls Sharks limited UCF to only 2 out of 12 third down conversions.
-D’Ernest Johnson: 4 receptions, 68 yards. 5 carries, 34 yards.
-Sean Price: 2 receptions, 27 yards, 2 TDs.
-Auggie Sanchez: 8 tackles. 10th player in USF history to amass 100+ tackles on the season. Ties Kawika Mitchell for 6th most in a single season at 106.
-Devin Abraham: 6 tackles, 1 INT. 3 INTs this season, second consecutive game with one.
-Emilio Nadelman: 3/3 FGs, all from 40+ yards. Has now made nine consecutive attempts, 3rd longest streak in school history.
Notable UCF Stats/Outcomes:
-Knights finish season 0-12. Third time in program history to go winless, second time in George O’Leary era.
-Knights have lost 13 straight going back to 2014 season. Last victory came at USF last year.
-Gave up at least 44 points in last five games.
-QB Justin Holman: 10/26, 116 yards, 1 INT.
-WR Tre’Quan Smith: 7 receptions, 102 yards. Sportscenter top-10 circus catch in 2nd quarter. Led Knights in receiving this season by a wide margin.
-LB Domenic Spencer: 15 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 sack
-LB Thomas Niles: 8 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 sack.
The annual Thanksgiving weekend I-4 rivalry between USF and UCF went as almost everyone expected this iteration to go. Willie Taggart’s bunch overpowered a weakened Knight’s ballclub in a 44-3 rout, mercifully bringing an end to UCF’s imperfect campaign.
“We came out with a business attitude. All week we’ve been focusing on us,” senior left guard Thor Jozwiak said. “We didn’t worry about what they were going to do. It’s about what the Bulls do and that’s something we’ve instilled this entire season.”
After yielding a FG on the opening drive to spot the Knights a quick 3-0, it was all USF until the final whistle. In particular, it turned into the Quinton Flowers show, who seemingly improves within the Gulf Coast Offense every week as he is statistically having arguably the greatest regular season for a quarterback in USF history. Flowers amounted five total touchdowns throughout the game, breaking Marquel Blackwell’s single season passing touchdown record in the process. The sophomore out of Miami’s shiftiness and quick decision making constantly keeps the Bulls offense on the move, with USF averaging 6.0 yards per play. Even a tipped pass to Sean Price that resulted in a third quarter looked like it was drawn up by design.
“Our guys did a good job of maintaining those blocks on the perimeter,” Taggart said. “It allowed us to get outside sometimes and Quinton made some plays with his feet to extend some drives.”
Meanwhile, Tom Allen’s Bull Sharks took advantage of a UCF offense that has been battered by injuries/player dismissals all season long. While not a turnover barrage like last week’s blowout vs. Cincinnati, the defense was efficient in getting UCF off the field quickly, stopping the Knights on 3rd down ten out of twelve times. That’s a huge turnaround from exactly one year ago when the same defense couldn’t stay off the field vs. UCF when they were under the direction of Chuck Bresnahan. The stars of the game were Auggie Sanchez, who gained his 100th tackle of the season, and Devin Abraham/Ronnie Hoggins who each had an INT during the contest. Hoggins “dabbed” after his takeaway in third quarter, illustrating the growing enthusiasm and swagger the Bull Sharks have cultivated over the course of the season.
Coach Taggart was pleased with his defense’s effort. “They come out with a workman mentality and they make sure that they’re competing day-in and day-out.”
Winning seven of their final eight contests, USF did exactly what it needed to do and finished the regular season on fire and the hottest team in the AAC. Now their conference championship hopes and aspirations lies in the hands of Uconn, where a Husky victory over Temple would send the Bulls to the AAC Championship game to play the winners of Houston-Navy. Sean Price during his postgame press conference had one simple message. “Go Huskies.”
If USF were to miss out on a division title, a trip to either the St. Petersburg Bowl or the Miami Beach Bowl seems their most likely destinations in December.