(Photo by Adrian J. Hernandez / New Day Review)
With Highly Anticipated USF Game Approaching, UCF Focuses on Temple First
The No. 18 UCF Knights and the USF Bulls have fielded two of their best teams in recent history in the 2017 season. Until USF lost to the Houston Cougars in Week 10, both teams were undefeated and on a collision course for the best matchup between two ranked sides in the “War on I-4.” Despite the one-loss Bulls’ blemish, the Black Friday matchup is still expected to be a battle between two ranked teams. USF is ranked 23rd in the Associated Press Top 25 and 20th in the Coaches Poll and will host the last-place Tulsa Golden Hurricane, who are 0-5 on the road this year.
Remaining undefeated in the final two games looms on the minds of the Knights, as they know a loss this late in the year will upend their historic season. That final two-game stretch begins with the Temple Owls in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Saturday. At the team’s game-week presser on Monday, head coach Scott Frost was adamant about not allowing his team look past the Owls.
HC SCOTT FROST: “Nah, we’re not gonna look ahead. That’s not what this group’s gonna do. That’s not what our coaching staff’s gonna allow to happen. We got a lot to play for, and we got a lot to play for every week. This is a team that we’re about to play that is improving every week they play and have played really well the last two weeks. So, we got our hands full, and they deserve our full attention.”
OL WYATT MILLER: “I just think, as a team, we understand that if we don’t focus on a team that all those rankings, everything that we’ve worked so hard for this season is out the window. So, I think we understand, as a team, that every game matters, and every team matters that we can’t look over anybody.”
Knights Use 2016 Homecoming Loss to Temple as Reminder to Play Complete Game
In 2016, the Knights fell to the Owls by way of a last-second touchdown in their homecoming game. UCF led 25-7 after the first half but allowed the Owls to go on a 19-0 scoring run that was capped off by a go-ahead score with one second left on the clock.
Temple would go on to finish the regular season with a 10-4 overall and 7-1 in the American Athletic Conference. The Owls defeated the navy Midshipmen in the AAC championship game and lost to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons 34-26 in the 2016 Military Bowl.
LB CHEQUAN BURKETT: “We touched on that game. You know, it was a heartbreaking loss that we took, and they turned out to be the conference champions, and that…just showed how great of a team we were at the time, but we just couldn’t finish. So, we just took that lesson from last year against Temple and put it towards all our games—the Memphis game, Navy, all those types of games to play a complete four quarters. So, we touched back on it from last year, but we just ready for the week of preparation.”
UCF Travels to Philadelphia for Coldest Game of Season
In Week 12 action, the Knights will travel to face Temple for what will be UCF’s coldest game of the year. According to weather.com, the high is 57, and the low is 41. There is also a 60 percent chance of rain.
HC SCOTT FROST: “Nah, you know, people are gonna talk about the cold. I looked at the forecast. Supposed to be in the 40s or 50s. When you’re from where I’m from, that’s not cold; that’s just football. To me, if it’s 20-below, that’s different. We’re going up to this game—it’s a mindset; just a mindset of our guys not to let that bother ‘em. I don’t want that to be a distraction for our team. We just gotta go up and warm up well and just stay active on the sideline. Once you get going, a day like that’s beautiful.
For more on the Knights, as they prepare for Temple and their last road game of the season, follow Victor Tan on Twitter at @NDR_VictorTan.