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War on I-4 predictions

The Times' college football staff picks the score in Friday's rivalry matchup.

Who will win the USF-UCF showdown on Friday? The Times' college football staff offers up thoughts on the rivalry.

Joey Knight, @TBTimes_Bulls

UCF, 41-28. While I can envision the Bulls enthralling their fan base by unleashing the sleek components of the Taggart-era Gulf Coast Offense (i.e. bubble screens, zone-reads, jet sweeps), UCF possesses the speed to adequately defend such an attack.  Moreover, Quinton Flowers and Co. have struggled with their consistency at times (see Stony Brook, Houston, Tulsa). UCF, by contrast, has scored at least 31 points in every game.

Matt Baker, @MBakerTBTimes

UCF 48-31. Finally, this rivalry will have some juice to it. I haven't been overly impressed by the Bulls, and I'm not sure many teams can slow down UCF. Another wrinkle: USF ran the score up on the Knights last year, rushing for a garbage-time touchdown with 11 seconds left. I bet the folks in Orlando remember it, and Scott Frost would like to deliver his own parting message, as Willie Taggart did last year.

Tom Jones, @TomWJones

USF, 41-35. USF vs. UCF. Who would've thought that this would be the game of the year in the state instead of Florida-Florida State? It's awesome. Good for both schools and, if things go just right, this will be the first of many terrific matchups in years to come. UCF has been terrific all season, but USF will be the best team, by far, the Knights have played. Let's not underestimate just how good USF has been over the past two seasons: 20-3 in their past 23 games. They're used to big games and won't be fazed by this opponent.

Martin Fennelly, @mjfennelly

UCF 47-45. The greatest game in the history of directional schools. In a moving pregame tribute, both the USF and UCF bands form a gigantic coaching resume at halftime. Charlie Strong gives the underdog speech, U.S.-Soviet style, and the Bulls give it their all UCF's ON-CAMPUS stadium. This rivalry becomes a true rivalry. Scott Frost's first act is to schedule USF once he gets to Nebraska.

Traci Johnson, @TBHomeTeam

UCF 34-28. The reasoning's pretty simple: UCF has played more complete games this season. And I'd like to see a Group of Five team go unbeaten. It won't create chaos in the College Football Playoff, but it'll be nice to see at least one local(ish) team playing on New Year's Day. Wouldn't that be Peach-y?