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The USF vs. UCF live blog: Knights outlast archrivals in the best game of 2017 so far

The War on I-4 delivered.

South Florida vs Central Florida Photo by Logan Bowles/Getty Images

Fourth quarter

UCF 49, USF 42, :39. While the Bulls were driving, Mitchell Wilcox caught a pass and turned to run, but Richie Grant punched it loose, and Shaquem Griffin pounced on it. That’ll be your final score. Knights win the AAC East and will host Memphis next weekend, with a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl on the line. USF piled up 653 yards to UCF’s 543, with Quinton Flowers a school-record 605 total yards, but the Knights took better advantage of their opportunities overall. This was the best game of the year so far.

UCF 49, USF 42, 1:28. Lmao UCF’s Mike Hughes just ran back the kickoff.

UCF 42, USF 42, 1:41. An 83-yard TD from Quinton Flowers to a WIDE-OPEN Darnell Salomon put the Bulls in position to tie, and Flowers found an equally wide-open D’Ernest Johnson for the two-pointer. So yeah! UCF running in that TD on the previous drive was a bad idea!

UCF 42, USF 34, 2:21. A screen to Otis Anderson turned into a winding, 23-yard touchdown, and this is still just a one-score game. UCF probably should’ve kneeled after the first down line and killed more clock, but points are fun to score!

UCF 35, USF 34, 4:03. Nine-play USF drive ends with a punt. Knights can just about ice the division.

UCF 35, USF 34, 7:13. And just like that, McKenzie Milton completes two big passes, one a streaking 45-yarder to Dredrick Snelson to retake the lead.

USF 34, UCF 28, 7:50. A game that was once totally frantic has stalled out for a while. Prepare for a silly finish.

USF 34, UCF 28, 14:02. Couple punts! We’re taking another break from offense for a little bit.

Third quarter

USF 34, UCF 28, 3:41. One UCF play, one INT by USF. Guess which Bull ran in the TD via juke right after that? Quinton Flowers is now up to 459 total yards and four total TDs.

UCF 28, USF 27, 4:42. The Quinton Flowers and Darius Tice show on that 11-play drive. Flowers is up to 429 total yards, and ...

UCF 28, USF 20, 8:30. The Knights are back in business. McKenzie Milton found Tre'Quan Smith to capitalize on great field position, all set up by Shaquem Griffin bottling up Quinton Flowers on a pass rush.

UCF 21, USF 20, 11:33. That’s five straight stops by the Bulls. A fourth-and-1 throw from USF’s 28 hits the ground.

Second quarter

UCF 21, USF 20, halftime. Quinton Flowers had the Bulls moving toward a last-second field goal, but an INT by Mike Hughes made it four failed scoring chances for the Bulls. Red zone troubles and a missed XP have cost the Bulls a lot. They’re outgaining UCF, 396 to 247.

UCF 21, USF 20, :55. FOUR STRAIGHT PUNTS BY UCF. They’ve had four or fewer punts in seven full games so far.

UCF 21, USF 20, 2:09. Quinton Flowers ran or threw on six of seven plays in this TD drive, including the 21-yard toss to Mitchell Wilcox. Flowers is up to 365 total yards in the first half lol.

UCF 21, USF 13, 5:08. Look at these defenses! UCF three-and-out!

UCF 21, USF 13, 7:04. These offenses are still pulling off alley oops all over the place, but the defenses have finally caught up. Punt into the end zone by USF after a couple silly gains by Quinton Flowers.

UCF 21, USF 13, 10:13.

UCF 21, USF 13, 11:46. The Bulls stay alive with a 20-yard Quinton Flowers lob to a leaping Temi Alaka. USF missed the extra point, a USF specialty, and two different USF touchdowns on this drive were brought back by penalties, also a USF specialty.

UCF 21, USF 7, 13:49. USF got a stop! Now starting inside their own 10.

First quarter

UCF 21, USF 7, :48. USF punt. Bulls in major trouble. Knights looking ridiculous.

UCF 21, USF 7, 2:23. OK, McKenzie Milton is balling out. The Knights QB ran a really slick option, faking the pitch and keeping before dropping off the delayed pitch to Adrian Killins Jr. for the score.

UCF 14, USF 7, 4:30. A USF field goal sails wide right, and that’s two scoring chances missed. That ain’t gonna cut it against UCF.

UCF 14, USF 7, 5:41. A scrambling McKenzie Milton made a nice throw over the top to Dredrick Snelson in the back of the end zone, completing a 10-play drive.

USF 7, UCF 7, 8:41. A stop! The Bulls came up short on fourth-and-1 in the red zone. Still probably the right call to go for it, since it’s hard to picture three-pointers winning this game.

USF 7, UCF 7, 11:16. The Knight strike right back with an eight-play drive, ending with QB McKenzie Milton keeping on a bootleg. Why yes, these are two of the country’s best offenses, why do you ask?

USF 7, UCF 0, 13:52. USF fans wanted some screen passes. They got ‘em, and a 47-yard Tyre McCants TD on the first drive of the game.


UCF’s looking clean, with each player getting a custom helmet decal of himself:


Miami may have the best college football team in Florida — though it’s up for debate. The battle for the No. 2 slot wages Friday, and it doesn’t feature the Gators or Seminoles. The No. 15 UCF Knights will welcome the South Florida Bulls to Orlando for an AAC showdown that could determine the Group of 5’s New Year’s bowl invitee. The two teams meet at 3:30 p.m. ET Friday; the game will be broadcast live on ABC (live stream).

The 10-0 Knights have torn through their competition this fall, but the 9-1 Bulls represent the toughest matchup on their schedule — and possibly their last chance to make an impression on the College Football Playoff selection committee. This final-week showdown isn’t just a resume-booster; it will also determine who wins the AAC East. South Florida is the only team left that can knock UCF from its perch atop the division. A title game showdown with Memphis awaits the winner.

Time, TV channel, and streaming info:

  • Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Spectrum Stadium, Orlando
  • TV: ABC
  • Streaming: Watch ESPN
  • Odds: UCF is favored by 10 points.

USF vs. UCF news:

“It was a tale of two halves,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “First half, we moved the ball up and down the field, they couldn’t stop us. We come back in the second half and we couldn’t move the ball at all.”

Despite ranking No. 6 in total yardage, no individual Knight is averaging more than 73 yards either rushing or receiving.

Sixteen players have caught passes, more than Washington State or any of the country’s other eight most passing-friendly offenses. And 13 Knights have carries, a longer list than even Georgia Tech’s.

In 692 plays over eight games, Syracuse has used 17 different ball-carriers. In 406 plays, the Knights have used 23.

The Bulls inched up a spot to #19 in the latest Amway Coaches Poll and did the same in moving up to #22 in the latest Associated Press Poll.

They were once again joined in both set of rankings by conference foes UCF and Memphis. The Knights checked in at #12 and #13 in the Coaches and AP, respectively, while the Tigers were slotted at #16 and #17.

Will Friday’s game be the departure point for either team’s head coach?

Frost’s turnaround at UCF has been remarkable. In fewer than two years, he’s turned an 0-12 program into an undefeated juggernaut. That’s made him a popular candidate for some high-profile coaching vacancies, and he’s been linked to schools like Florida and Nebraska before his regular season could even end. Strong doesn’t quite have the same buzz at USF, but a big finish to 2017 — and a one-loss season — could make him a candidate to rejoin the Power 5.

USF vs. UCF prediction:

The Bulls may be 9-1, but their 2017 schedule lined up more cupcakes than a bakery. USF’s best win this fall is over either Temple or Tulane — and UCF is a major step up from those two programs. Expect the Knights to finish out their perfect regular season.