COLUMBIA, SC (TheBigSpur) - It was already sort of a strange matchup -- the Gamecocks traveling away from home to play a non-conference team which isn't in the ACC. South Carolina travels to Central Florida Saturday at noon to take on the 3-0 Knights in what is all of a sudden also one of the week's marque matchups.
Central Florida, which will play a nationally televised home game for the first time in school history, will look to continue an impressive start to the season with an opportunity to knock off a Top 25 team for just the second time in program history. The Knights have already defeated traditional power Penn State 34-31 two weekends ago.
The warning has been served: The Gamecocks can't just show up in Orlando and expect to win without playing well.
"We're playing UCF, a team that is sky high," South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said. "They are 3-0 for the first time since 1988. A lot of them down there say this may be the biggest game they've ever had in the school. They have an opportunity, if they win, to jump into the Top 25 and maybe beat every team on their schedule. They're that a good a team. It's a huge game for all of us. It should be something special."
Spurrier has always instilled in his team to approach every game the same way, but that can be easier said than done. UCF's victory over Penn State serves as that reminder.
"They proved themselves beating Penn State on the road," senior cornerback Jimmy Legree said Tuesday. "They've got a lot to prove and they're going to come out hard, willing to win. We've got to stop them."
Stopping teams has been a bit of a roller coaster for the Gamecocks defense this season. They've played well at times, but also struggled in a Week 2 trip to Athens when they allowed 41 points.
The Gamecocks are allowing 365.7 yards per game and 25.3 points per game.
"Overall, I feel like we've played okay, but I still feel like we need to get better at everything," Legree said. "I feel like we'll get there eventually."
UCF, which averages 36.7 points and 457.7 yards per game offensively, is led by junior quarterback Blake Bortles, who could be one of the best quarterbacks the Gamecocks face this season. Bortles has thrown for 816 yards and seven touchdowns on the season with just one interception.
Legree sees it as a chance to show the defense is making improvements.
"For us, I feel like this is an opportunity for us to come into their town and shut them down," Legree said. "Being that we haven't played so well on defense, this is another opportunity for us to get better. They're a throwing team. We've got a lot more chances to make plays and show them that we can play with them."