28 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

The buildup to last season's contest fit the bill.

When UCF and USF met in Bright House Networks Stadium in 2013, it was a game that had been discussed and debated for five years since the programs had last met. The rivalry is real and exists especially between the fan bases. But does the intensity between the fans carry over to the play on the field?

On Friday, chapter six of the "I-4 Corridor Clash" will take center stage at noon in the Raymond James Stadium.

"I think the buildup is the big thing. I think early in the week the kids will be excited," UCF wide receivers coach Sean Beckton said. "The thing that you have to realize is that we're playing at their place this year as opposed to last year [when] we played at home. We know they'll have a big fan base there and we know our fan base will travel out there — I think it's going to be a very electric game."

Last season, with five minutes remaining, quarterback Blake Bortles found Breshad Perriman bolting down the sideline for a 52-yard touchdown. A few minutes later, Jordan Ozerities sealed the game with an interception.

"Cardiac Knights came back and won the game and it showed the resiliency and the heart we have," senior linebacker Terrance Plummer recalled. "Even though we weren't playing well, we found a way to get it done."

But now the programs are in different places than they were a season ago. Back then, USF sported one of college football's most anemic offenses, and although it had talent, it struggled to hit stride. UCF was on top of the college football world, sporting one of the nation's top quarterbacks, and had its sights set on a BCS bowl game.

Now, USF has improved in the second season under Willie Taggart, and with Bortles gone to the NFL, UCF's offense has dipped to the bottom of college football in total offense and rushing offense.

For the fans, the excitement to play a rival is obvious, but for the players it's a little different. Many of the players on the USF roster are from within the state and from the same areas that much of UCF's roster hails.

"I think [the rivalry] is more with the fans, we try to preach one game at a time," Beckton said. "Coming from the state of Florida, you have a lot of guys who have competed against each other [in high school]."

Prior to UCF's win last season, the Knights had never beaten the Bulls. Three of the five matchups have been decided by seven points or less, and in 2007 USF topped UCF 64-12 in Tampa.

"It's a hostile environment whether we're home or away," said former UCF running back Kevin Smith. "The fans are pretty geeked up because they're just down the street."

Smith, one of UCF's all-time greatest players, never beat USF in his career. The Bulls were the one team to keep Smith below 100 yards rushing during his final year at UCF , and he left that game with an injury at halftime.

"It's a pride thing," said Smith, who is now a recruiting intern at UCF. "You want to win every game, but you definitely want to beat your next-door neighbor."

For UCF, the game against USF means everything. While USF is essentially eliminated from the conference chase, UCF is in a dead heat for the conference crown — and a loss to USF would be a crushing blow to UCF's conference championship aspirations.

"Right now they have more wins [all-time] than us," Beckton said, "so we want to close that gap."

28 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE