How many will show for Cincinnati game?
I don't mean to turn the focus away from Syracuse at all, but in the excitement of USF's 4-0 start and the possibility of the Bulls being 5-0 and hosting Cincinnati two weeks from Thursday, I've heard a lot of references to the prospect of a sold-out Raymond James Stadium for the Big East showdown.
That's probably not going to happen, if only because of the logistical limitations of a Thursday night kickoff. The weeknight slot is great for national exposure, but means less families will turn out on a school night, and fewer out-of-towners who have to take work off on Friday to make the trip. Not to say some fans won't do just that, but less than would for a traditional Saturday game, or even a Friday night kickoff.
Take last season -- the Bulls were at their season peak of No. 10 in the national rankings when Pittsburgh came to town for a Thursday night game. Do you remember the crowd? It was announced at 50,307 -- well under the 65,000-plus needed for sellouts like the Bulls had against West Virginia and Central Florida in 2006. Two weeks after Pittsburgh last year, there were more fans (51,384) to see a lower-ranked Bulls teams face a lesser Syracuse team ... on a Saturday.
With that in mind, and with season-ticket sales about 15 percent down from last season, a crowd in the low 50s is probably what the Bulls and Bearcats will get, which is two full levels and fans on one side of the top tier at Raymond James. It's also much more than USF was able to draw for two early home games against Wofford (40,360) and Charleston Southern (38,798).
USF has sold more than 1,000 "miniplans" -- which allow fans to pick three of the remaining four home games -- since the last home game on Sept. 19. Single-game tickets are now on sale, but the Bulls' biggest crowd will almost certainly be an Oct. 30 game against West Virginia or a Nov. 28 date against Miami, USF's first home game against one of the state's traditional powers.
We now return to the Syracuse coverage already in progress ...