Sept. 16, 2005
TAMPA- After years of talk and speculation, UCF and USF will finally meet on the gridiron, Saturday evening at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Despite a mere 98 miles between the two schools, this will be the first time they have faced each other on the football field. Kickoff is set for 7:06 p.m.
FSN Florida will televise the game, with Rick Peckham handling the play-by-play duties and Tony McGee has the color analyst.
For fans who cannot see the game, the UCF ISP Network and its flagship station 740- The Team AM (WQTM) will broadcast live from Tampa. Marc Daniels will once again have the call with Gary Parris. Jerry O'Neill will handle the sideline duties. Network affiliates include WMMV-1350 in Cocoa, WDCF-1350 Dade City, WROD-1340 in Daytona Beach and WMMB-1240 Melbourne.
While ESPN GamePlan is offering the UCF-USF game outside of Florida only (as it is available in-state on FSN Florida), if you reside outside of the state, have satellite service and subscribe to the "sportspack" from DirecTV or DISH, you do not need to order the contest from GamePlan. The game will be available on FSN Florida, which is channel 634 on DirecTV and channel 423 on DISH (all areas, no blackouts).
Since GamePlan is designed as an "out of market" package and this game is already airing and available "in market" on FSN Florida, the contest is blacked out on GamePlan inside the state of Florida.
UCF head coach George O'Leary hopes this first meeting on the gridiron is the start of a yearly tradition. O'Leary would like to play the Bulls each season.
"I think everyone at UCF would like to see it every year," said O'Leary. "I think when you have 11 games, I could see the problem, but once you go to a 12th game, it seems to be a natural fit. Instead of looking in Utah or California to play a game, you have one (game) two hours down the street. They have a stadium over there that will hopefully bring their crowd and our crowd. It will be a great crowd to watch the game."
UCF Fans can learn more about the Golden Knights as they prepare to face the Bulls by watching "The George O'Leary Show" prior to the game. The program airs on Friday statewide at 5:30 p.m. on Sun Sports. In the Orlando-area, the show also airs on Saturday at 1 p.m. on WESH-TV 2.
Just like O'Leary, USF head coach Jim Leavitt has been asked all week about the possible rivalry forming. Like O'Leary, Leavitt also sees it as a natural fit.
"I think it's natural," said Leavitt. "I don't think that there is any question. We haven't been playing football for that long, and we didn't play them early because they have been playing football for quite a while longer. We were a I-AA team just trying to see if we could become a football team. Everybody's already been writing about it, since the two schools are so close, that it would be natural."
After opening the season with a 10 point loss to Penn State, the Bulls bounced back last week with a 37-3 victory over Florida A&M. Running back Andre Hall was the big playmaker for USF. He ran for 156 yards on 18 carries, to go along with a career high three rushing touchdowns. The Bulls spent most of the time on the ground, with 56 of their 74 plays being rushing attempts. Quarterback Pat Julmiste threw for just 71 yards against Florida A&M.
Defensively against FAMU, USF was led by linebackers Stephen Nichoals and Ben Moffit, who both totaled six tackles.
UCF had a bye last week, but had an impressive showing at South Carolina on Sept. 1. Despite a 24-15 loss, the squad showed great improvement from last season on both sides.
Defensively, UCF held the Gamecocks to just 32 yards on the ground and registered three sacks for the game. Paul Carrington, Frisner Nelson, and Chris Welsh each had a sack and Ronnell Sandy led the team with seven total tackles. The UCF defensive front will be challenged all night by Hall. Hall has quickly established himself as one of best runners in the history of the program, rushing for 1,585 yards, while appearing in just 13 career games.
UCF had two receives go over 100 yards against the Gamecocks. Mike Walker hauled in nine catches for 105 yards and a touchdown, while Brandon Marshall had 10 catches for 102 yards. After a solid preaseason, quarterback Steven Moffet completed 27-of-39 passes for 258 yards and a touchdown. The improvement of Moffet also caught the eye of Leavitt.
"He (Moffet) is a very good football player," said Leavitt. "We recruited him out of high school and we know what he can do. He's very talented. He can run and throw. He's a very talented player."
The UCF rushing attack should get an extra boost this week with the return of Dontavious Wilcox. He was forced out of the South Carolina game early in the first quarter of taking a knee to the head, resulting in a minor concussion. Kevin Smith and Jason Peters filled in nicely for Wilcox. Smith, a true freshman playing in his first career game had 48 yards on just 13 attempts, while Peters had 42 yards on 13 carries.