For UCF’s Josh Celiscar, the Military Bowl experience means more

WASHINGTON, DC — When a team starts traveling and attending pre-bowl events, it’s an exciting trip for coaches and players alike.

for University of California, San Francisco Defensive end Josh Celiscar, this week at military bowl Compared duke means more.

Celiscar’s older sister Sophonie is in the Army and his younger brother Kenely is in the Navy.

So when the Cavaliers had the opportunity to assemble care kits for U.S. troops overseas Tuesday with the United Services Organization, Seliska had his family in mind.

Members of the UCF football team prepared care packages for U.S. troops overseas Tuesday in Washington, D.C., ahead of Wednesday's Military Bowl game against Duke in Annapolis, Maryland.

These packages include treats and snacks as well as handwritten notes from players.

“It makes me feel good because I know they’re doing a lot of work right now,” he told the Orlando Sentinel. “My sister is stationed here, so I hope to see her.

“It means a lot to me to be here and send a good message to the troops,” he added. “I’ve written a lot of the Bible verses I’ve been studying lately. In this case, I feel very lucky.”

Celiscar said he will play for his siblings when UCF faces the Blue Devils.

“My sister works hard and I know my brother works hard too,” he said. “They’re doing a lot of work. The world wouldn’t work without them, so they’re making a lot of sacrifices.”

Game List

Where: Marine Corps Memorial Stadium

When: 2 p.m.

television: ESPN

radio: FM 96.9/AM 740 Gaming

weather: 43 degrees with 0% chance of rain

favorite: Blue Devils 3.5

online: orlandosentinel.com/knights; @therealBeede on twitter

coach: Gus Malzahn, second season at UCF, 18-8 (95-46 overall); Mike Elko, first season at Duke, 8-4 overall.

Quick tilt: UCF and Duke have never met in football. The two teams have two common opponents this season. Both beat Temple at home — UCF won 70-13 on Oct. 13, Duke won 30-0 on Sept. 2 — and they also faced Georgia Tech. The Cavaliers beat Georgia Tech 27-10 at home on Sept. 24, while the Blue Devils lost 23-20 on the road in overtime on Oct. 8.

About UCF (9-4, 6-2 AAC): The Cavaliers are aiming to win their 10th game of the season, which they have done only eight times in the FBS programming era. UCF has a chance to host the AAC championship game before losing its home game to Navy on Nov. 19. The following week, the Cavaliers bounced back on the road, beating rival USF 46-39 in Tampa for a title game berth. UCF made its second trip to Tulane in four weeks, losing 45-28 to the Green Wave in New Orleans on Dec. 3.Significant roster and coaching staff changes since conference championships, including departures of defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Travis Williams (Arkansas) and Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach Chip Lindsay (North Carolina).Wide receiver Ryan O’Keefe, linebacker Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste and cornerback Davonte Brown, among others, will not play in the bowl game after entering the bowl game NCAA Transfer Portal. UCF promotes defensive backs coach addison williams Moved to defensive coordinator while still looking for a replacement for Lindsey.

About Duke (ACC 8-4, 5-3): The Blue Devils are coming off a turnaround season after winning just three games last year. First-year head coach Mike Elko was named ACC Coach of the Year, becoming just the fifth coach in program history to receive the award. Duke is in its first bowl game since 2018 after finishing second in the ACC Coastal Division. Elko joined Fred Goldsmith in 1994, becoming just the second head coach in school history to lead a team to bowling eligibility in his first season. Duke sophomore quarterback Riley Leonard has thrown for 2,794 yards and 20 touchdowns while rushing for 636 yards and 11 TDs. He is one of three quarterbacks in the nation with at least 11 rushing yards and 20 or more passing yards in a year, joining Oregon’s Bo Nix and UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson . Leonard became the first player in Duke history to rush for 10 or more touchdowns and pass for at least 20 touchdowns in a single season.

Three things to watch

1. Can UCF run the ball successfully? The Cavaliers averaged 236.1 rushing yards per game, good for eighth in the country. The Blue Devils rank 26th nationally in rush defense, holding opposing teams to an average of 121 yards. UCF has rushed for more than 200 yards in nine of its 13 games, while Duke has given up rushing for more than 200 yards in just two games.

2. Who can watch the football? The Blue Devils don’t miss often. They are tied for 10th nationally with just four defeats. The same cannot be said for UCF. The Cavaliers are tied for 125th in 13 possessions (of 131). Duke ranks first nationally in fumbles with 15, while UCF is tied for 13th in the field with 12.

3. Who started faster? UCF is 7-0 after the first score this season, while Duke is 6-0 after the first score. The opponent scored first, and the Cavaliers led 2-4. Since 2017, the Blue Devils are 14-2 in opening touchdowns.

Email Jason Beede at jbeede@orlandosentinel.com or follow him on Twitter @therealBeede.