Who will charge through the AAC East — UCF or USF?

At last, a weekly UCF Knights press conference where members of the media weren’t shut down when asking questions of the pending “War on I-4” with USF.

You got to give Head Coach Scott Frost miles of credit for instilling a message to his team. It’s one thing when coach squashes any talk beyond the next immediate match-up from the podium, it’s another when a player shuts you down at the mere passing mention of a distantly pending contest.

photo/ Kyle Nash

It’s now appropriate by everyone’s standards to point out that a UCF victory will clinch the East division and send them to the AAC Conference Championship Game. A Knights’ win would also mark the first time the school had 12 wins in a season – the first undefeated season for the program= while also taking a crucial step in eclipsing the vaunted 2013 team.

With all that on the line,  linebacker and 2016 AAC Defensive Player of the Year Shaquem Griffin noted that the focus from underclassmen should remain the same.

“Just remain the same,” he added. “Don’t change anything that you’ve been doing because, obviously, what you’ve been doing is working. Make sure you remain the same.  Do the same thing you’ve already been doing to get here and to this point. That’s working hard, staying focused and make sure you trust in everything that your coaches give you.”

Photo/Scott McEntire

The UCF defense’s biggest task is easily containing USF’s electric quarterback, Quinton Flowers. When it was suggested that containing him to stop him from running was half the battle, Griffin seemed unconvinced.

“That’s a tough one,” Griffin stated. “(Quinton) Flowers is an amazing player and he does an amazing job with leading his team. I think if we can keep Quinton Flowers under wraps, that’s gonna be a really big step for us.  But they have really good receivers, too. So we gotta make sure that we’re not done with doing everything that our coaches are putting us in position to do.”

The Knights winning all but one of their games by double digits so far may lead some to think that it will be tough for them to take this game seriously. Frost reminded us that “This team has had a chip on its shoulder since day one.”

After that first day of the new coaching regime in 2016, they bounced back from 0-12 in 2015 to bowl eligible the next season.

Getty images

But during that campaign, a sore spot remains when the Bulls opted to put up another touchdown instead of kneeling on the ball to end the game as the Knights fell, 48-31.  While defensive end Jamyius Pittman claimed “They were just playing. [They were] trying to finish the game strong”, it was apparent that it was still on his mind and likely his teammates as well.  Perhaps a desire for payback lurks in the UCF camp?

Skip the shopping on Black Friday, get there early before the kickoff at 3:30 pm Eastern or tune in on ABC — this is a game that is worth your time.

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