Today at Raymond James Stadium it will be “The War on I-4,” as the Knights from the University of Central Florida will make the 90-minute trip from Orlando to face their rivals the University of South Florida Bulls it a matchup that is bigger than football. This Tampa Vs. Orlando and a game that sports fans in Central Florida from Daytona Beach to St. Petersburg Beach need to embrace and to support.
Kickoff will be around 4:15 p.m. with the game being seen nationally on ESPN, and it has quickly become one the Thanksgiving weekends most watched college games on the network. By the way, the game airs locally on the radio on WWBA AM 820 the flagship station for all things USF Sports.
Sure, this a big game as the No. 11 Knights bring the nation’s longest undefeated streak to Tampa with a (10-0, 7-0 AAC) and a win against the Bulls (7-4, 3-4) can set them up to be part of national championship conversation but this is more about how far the two schools have come.
In the academic year 2016-17, 66,016 students were enrolled at UCF, making it the largest among American universities not bad for a school that was established in 1963. Meanwhile, USF ranks 10th overall at 50,577 and fourth in the Sunshine State behind Florida International and the University of Florida.
Both schools boast world-class academic programs that include law schools, medical schools, and high tech engineering departments. It is a reflection of the growth and maturity of the Tampa – Orlando region as one of the fastest growing, and education-rich areas in the United States.
A quick look at the game shows that UCF comes to Tampa fresh off a 38-13 win over No. 24 Cincinnati Saturday night in front of a nationally-televised audience. Regardless of the outcome today the Knights have already clinched their second consecutive American Athletic Conference East Division crown and a chance to defend their title in the championship game in two weeks at home in Orlando against the winner of the Houston and Tulsa game to be played Saturday.
The Bulls are set to close out their season coming off a disappointing loss to Temple. It was the Bulls fourth straight loss but they remain a dangerous team despite their many injuries.
USF leads the overall series 6-3, including two wins during the past three meetings. But it was last season’s 49-42 thrilling win by UCF at Spectrum Stadium that had fans from both schools talking rematch and nationally people watching to see these two schools as their football programs grow in the world of college football.
So, today get out to Raymond James Stadium and watch these two outstanding schools face off in a big-time college football game. But also know the War on I-4 means a great deal to both Tampa and Orlando.