Game 329: #22 UCF @ USF

This was the final rendition of the War on I-4. With UCF moving up to the Big 12 for the 2023 season, these two rivals separated by 2 hours of interstate have no future games scheduled. UCF comes in ranked #22 and by contrast, USF only has one win to flaunt this season. But, rivalries traditionally weaken the expectations – anything can happen.

Half of Raymond James Stadium filled with green and gold while the other half was packed tight with black and gold. Add both bands to the mix, and the War on I-4 felt much like a bowl game. 

UCF charged out with an explosive 28-0 lead. It looked as though the Knights were poised to make a statement on their way out of the American Athletic Conference. As the third quarter got underway, whispers of hope emerged for the Bulls. Two touchdowns capped with two point conversions shrunk the UCF lead to 31-23. What seemed like an impossible feat, this comeback was one score away from reality. Many Bulls fans had left expecting dire results, but those that stayed added to the wild cheers as USF miraculously took a 39-38 lead with seven minutes remaining. Stunned expressions gripped the faces of every onlooker.

However, the shock didn’t settle in for the UCF players. A methodical drive ended in a breathtaking toss and catch to Alec Holler to take the lead for good with 20 seconds remaining. USF’s heartbreak and UCF’s relief kept the stadium relatively quiet after the game. This rivalry has had a short history, but saturated with thrills. Today’s outcome punctuated the War on I-4 fantastically.

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