Sadly, this will be our last Bulls Recon of the football season. Today we chatted with Carson Ingle, the UCF writer for Underdog Dynasty, about the Knights, today's game, and the future of the series. Thanks again to Carson for his help!
1. How would UCF fans evaluate their season thus far? Is it AAC title or bust?
CI: Overall, the season gets a good evaluation from the fanbase with a few thoughts of what could have been. Fans do not feel the Knights should have lost games to Penn State or UConn and I have to agree. However, if UCF slips up in the next two games and does not win at least a share of the conference title, most fans will consider the season a failure.
2. On that note, UCF would be a serious contender for the Group of Five New Year's Day bowl if not for a loss to UConn. What exactly happened there?
CI: The team did not want to use weather as an excuse, but I have to think that playing on the 40 degree, rainy day affected the Knights more than the Huskies. That kind of dead atmosphere I believe made the difference. With this week's revelation that Boise is ahead of Marshall in the committee rankings, one would have to think that UCF would have been the highest ranked G5 team had they not slipped up.
3. Justin Holman's had an up-and-down season at quarterback, but he's clearly got a lot of taent and a total gun for an arm. Are UCF fans confident that Holman is the future at QB?
CI: I certainly am confident that Holman should be the guy going forward. He is doing more as a sophomore than Blake Bortles did. On average, the fanbase may not be as confident as I am. Plus, the hype they have heard on freshman Tyler Harris and incoming freshman Bo Schneider is strong. Both guys possess some of the same physical attributes Bortles did.
4. Even with Mike White (seemingly) entrenched at quarterback, USF will likely be looking to pound Marlon Mack early and often. How has UCF's front seven dealt with power running attacks?
CI: UCF has had limited experience facing a power running attack this season. As you know, most of the teams in the American have more of a spread based running game. They were successful against Penn State in the opener, but the Nittany Lions threw it a ton. Overall, the Knights rank 11th in the country in rushing defense, so they have defended the run well.
5. The history of USF-UCF is brief but rather ugly. First USF wouldn't call it a rivalry, now they've accpted it, but George O'Leary is going on record and telling everyone it's just another game. Clearly there's a lot of bad blood here, but there are also a lot of logical people on both sides. Do you think this can become a fun, clean rivalry game one day?
CI: No, in fact, I think it will only grow more heated as time goes on. Considering there is this much animosity after only five meetings is rather extraordinary. I think UCF will always remember allegations of USF higher-ups blocking the Knights from the Big East. In the future, there is bound to be even more crossover in recruiting and fans that grow up with a built-in dislike for the other side of the rivalry that has not been present in our generation.
6. Prediction for the game?
CI: Wow, I could really see anything playing out. It is hard to not see USF having at least some momentum early in the game because clearly they are dialed in to play UCF. I still think the Knights will pull away at the end so let's go 28-17.