It’s rivalry weekend in college football and in the sunshine stay that means that FSU gets set to play host to arch-rival Florida Saturday at noon in Tallahassee.
Meanwhile, a rivalry that hasn’t existed as long or been nearly is heated and hated, but still has huge significance, is USF playing the latest edition of the “War on I-4” against UCF, Friday afternoon in Tampa.
And in both cases, the home team is struggling. Struggling for wins. And, struggling to get their fans energized in their Market. And finally, struggling with the prospect that the opposing team may bring a large and Loud contingent into their Stadium this weekend.
Seminoles boss Willie Taggart met with the media off of his team’s 22 – 21 dramatic comeback win (above) Saturday night over Boston College and is ready for his first taste of the FSU – Florida game as a head coach:
VIDEO: Willie Taggart on the stakes at play vs. Florida, development of defense and Francois, injury update on key contributors.https://t.co/63Rk8NBlaE
— Warchant.com (@Warchant) November 19, 2018
Taggart is specifically concerned with the early noon start to the game on Saturday and that there will not be as many students, etc. filling Doak Campbell Stadium. The Noles had at least 20,000 empty seats Saturday and a lot in the student sections. And, with the Gators having won two weeks ago in dramatic fashion over South Carolina, and then, blowing out Idaho, there may be a lot of orange and blue when he looks around on their home field.
Likewise, Bulls coach Charlie Strong met with the media in Tampa Monday and expressed similar concerns about UCF coming into Raymond James Stadium.
Answering a question about fears that UCF might bring 15-20,000 or more fans across I-4 to complete another perfect regular season, here was his response on that and other subjects:
— USF Football (@USFFootball) November 19, 2018
Strong experienced the UCF rivalry firsthand in Orlando last year, when the Bulls and the Knights engaged in one of the wildest and most dramatic games of 2017. This is specifically because, UCF was trying to complete a perfect regular season a year ago and the Bulls “battled them tooth and nail” until the final minutes, when Mike Hughes’ kickoff return for a touchdown provided the ultimate margin of Victory.
UCF went on to a 13 – 0 American Conference Championship season and a win in the Peach Bowl over Auburn.
However, unlike Florida State off the high of a victory at home last week, USF is reeling having lost four straight games, including blowing a 17 point lead to lose the Temple last Saturday. The Bulls also get one less day to prepare with the game being on Friday afternoon.
Still, these are both rivalry games and even if the home team will be considered the underdog, which they both are in Vegas, anything can truly happen.
And Taggart and Strong will be preaching that to their teams this week.
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