College Sports

The ‘War on I-4’ looms. The rivalry’s origins? Not UCF-USF.

Saban dismisses claim that UCF shares national title with Alabama

Alabama coach Nick Saban insists that his team is the true NCAA football champion, and not UCF, who went undefeated last season. Saban added that the College Football Playoff system is "not broken."
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Alabama coach Nick Saban insists that his team is the true NCAA football champion, and not UCF, who went undefeated last season. Saban added that the College Football Playoff system is "not broken."

It’s rivalry week for college football.

Games with nicknames abound this weekend, including ones regarding a war.

There’s the Civil War game featuring Oregon and Oregon State, and the Holy War game with Utah and BYU.

Oh, there’s also the War on I-4 game pitting UCF against USF.

The origins of the Civil War and Holy War rivalry nicknames are a bit obvious from a historical context.

But UCF-USF? The name applies to the 84-mile stretch of Interstate 4 corridor separating Tampa from Orlando, but the schools weren’t the first to coin the term for their sports rivalry.

Rather, the Orlando Predators and Tampa Bay Storm’s Arena Football League rivalry predates UCF-USF with the War on I-4 nickname.

The AFL franchises met eight times in the playoffs with more than 60 meetings since 1991. However, as the popularity of the AFL faded from the 90s that culminated with both the Predators and Storm folding in recent years, the War on I-4 has become synonymous with UCF-USF.

The Knights and Bulls play Friday in Tampa with UCF seeking back-to-back undefeated regular seasons. The Knights breezed past previous one-loss Cincinnati in ABC’s prime time game Saturday to lock up an American Athletic Conference championship appearance. UCF holds the nation’s longest active winning streak at 23 games and is likely to enter the College Football Playoff’s top 10 rankings on Tuesday.

USF, meanwhile, has lost four in a row after a 7-0 start. Last year, UCF won 49-42.

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