UCF–USF football rivalry
|UCF–USF football rivalry|
|Series record||South Florida leads, 4–1|
|First meeting||September 17, 2005
South Florida 31, UCF 14
|Last meeting||November 29, 2013
UCF 23, South Florida 20
|Largest win||South Florida, 64–12 (2007)|
|Longest win streak||South Florida, 4 (2005–2008)|
|Current win streak||UCF, 1 (2013–present)|
The UCF–USF football rivalry, sometimes known as the "War on I–4" or "I–4 Corridor Clash", is an American college football rivalry game played annually between the University of Central Florida Knights and the University of South Florida Bulls. It was played from 2005–08 and returned in 2013 as a yearly conference game, following UCF's entrance into the American Athletic Conference. South Florida currently leads the series, 4–1–0.
Discussions about scheduling a game between the University of Central Florida Knights and the University of South Florida Bulls began as soon as South Florida fielded its first NCAA Division I-AA team in 1997. Supporters suggested such a rivalry could help generate interest and revenue for both burgeoning teams. The prospect became more serious when USF entered Division I-A in 2001 and was very popular among fans, but as it would be a non-conference series, difficulties arose. UCF had overbooked its future schedules and would have to break commitments. Meanwhile, USF officials worried that their young program stood to take in less revenue from a home-and-away series against UCF than it would with an additional home game on the schedule.
In 2003, the schools' athletics directors met and agreed to schedule games for the 2005 and 2006 seasons. USF won both games, which drew crowds over 45,000, and the series was extended for 2007 and 2008. USF won these games as well, including a 64-12 blowout in 2007. Subsequently USF, which had joined the Big East, a BCS conference, declined to schedule further games in the series, indicating it wished to pursue more competitive and high profile BCS opponents.
The two schools discussed scheduling more games over the next several years, including a failed proposal by USF to play at the Citrus Bowl in 2011. In 2011, UCF was admitted to the Big East Conference (later realigned as the American Athletic Conference). The game will resume as a regular conference match beginning with the 2013 season.
Starting in 2005, some writers dubbed the rivalry the "War on I–4", and in 2013, promoters named it the "I–4 Corridor Clash". Both name refer to Interstate 4, which runs through both Orlando and Tampa.
A crowd of 45,139, second-largest (until that time) in South Florida's relatively brief football history, watched the Bulls build a 21-0 halftime lead on the strength of a relentless running attack that finished with 326 yards. Andre Hall ran for 155 yards and scored two touchdowns Saturday night to help South Florida beat Central Florida 31-14.
UCF was held to 45 yards rushing and was shut out until Joe Burnett returned a third-quarter punt 60 yards to the South Florida 4, setting up Steven Moffett's touchdown run on the next play. Moffett also threw a 9-yard TD pass to Brandon Marshall late in the fourth quarter.
One play after Hall nearly scored on a 17-yard run, Pat Julmiste added South Florida's last TD on 1-yard quarterback sneak late in the third quarter. Kyle Bronson added a fourth-quarter field goal to make it 31-7.
USF freshman quarterback Matt Grothe threw for 302 yards and ran for another 73, eclipsing Marquel Blackwell's 239-yard game against New Haven in 1999. Blackwell also had a 238-yard game that same year against Liberty. Meanwhile, Grothe now has the top three rushing games by a freshman quarterback in USF history, including his 73 yards today. He had 82 rushing yards against Florida International and 58 in the season opener against McNeese State. Blackwell had held the record with 57 yards against Southwest Texas State in 1999.
The Bulls defeated the cross-state Knights 64-12 in front of a home crowd announced at 65,948. The Bulls held the Knights to just 145 total yards and Kevin Smith, who came in as the nation's leading rusher at 172 yards per game, to just 55 yards in one half of play, the only time during the season that a defense held Smith to under 100 yards. South Florida gained 543 total yards—over three times as much as UCF—while holding the ball three fewer minutes than the Knights. UCF scored their only offensive points—a Kyle Israel rush for a touchdown, and a field goal—in the first half. UCF and USF would also exchange safeties.
In what was the final meeting of the War on I-4 for many years due to USF is too good for UCF, the visiting Bulls downed the Knights 31-24 in a closely contested overtime battle. With UCF trailing 24-7 late in the 4th quarter, quarterback Michael Greco threw two touchdown passes in less than a minute, including passes of 13 yards to Corey Rabazinski and 31 yards to Rocky Ross, to tie the game at 24 with 1:40 remaining in regulation. South Florida won the game when they stopped UCF on a 4th and short in overtime.
Despite turning the ball over five times, the Knights found a way to earn their first victory in the I–4 Corridor Clash against South Florida. Running back Storm Johnson fumbled the ball on UCF's first two drives, including a drop at the Bulls 10 yard line. Trailing with under five minutes left in regulation, Blake Bortles found Breshad Perriman for a 52–yard go-ahead touchdown reception. With 1:20 left in the fourth quarter and charging down the field, South Florida quarterback Mike White was intercepted by Jordan Ozerities, and he returned the ball 52 yards to the Bulls 37 yard line. The Knights ran out the clock, and with the victory, UCF earned at least a share of the inaugural American Athletic Conference football championship.