Here's hoping your Thanksgiving Day is peaceful, pleasant and calorific. Here's hoping you also leave a little room to digest these final four USF-UCF thoughts before the "War on I-4" kicks off.
1. The strength-versus-strength subplots in this game are seemingly boundless. UCF leads the American Athletic Conference in pass efficiency (184.3), but USF is first in pass-efficiency defense (101.3). The Bulls lead the league in sacks (3.3 per game), but the Knights are tied for second in sacks allowed (1.1). UCF ranks first in turnover margin (plus-1.60), just ahead of USF (plus-1.10).
2. We're still a little puzzled as to why USF closed off all practice access to reporters this week. Not perturbed, puzzled. Here's why: At best, we're allowed in for the last five to 10 minutes, just as the Bulls typically are finishing special teams work. We've never been privy to offensive or defensive team work, when the game plan's being installed. So why would we be barred from such a seemingly benign portion of practice? What do they not want us to see? An injured player they're trying to keep under wraps? Special-teams gadgetry? We'll find out soon enough.
3. The Friday forecast in Orlando calls for an 80-percent chance of rain, which presumably would lend a slight advantage to the better run team. Question them becomes, who's the better run team? The Bulls average 276.9 rushing yards per game and a solid 5.1 yards per attempt. And while UCF averages considerably fewer yards per game (210.2), their per-carry average (5.3) is a tad better. UCF also is smaller and faster. Five-foot-8, 158-pound sophomore Adrian Killins was a two-time Class 3A state champ in the 200 meters at Daytona Beach Mainland, and freshman Otis Anderson (5-11, 164) is equally small and sleek. Anything that might slow down that pair of spark plugs would benefit the Bulls.
4. If we see the Quinton Flowers that shredded Connecticut and the defense that embarrassed Temple, USF will win.