If USF goes bowling, is it St. Pete or elsewhere?
(Just a reminder that we'll have a live chat here on the blog at 12:30 today. Looking forward to your questions. ...)
Now that USF football needs only one win in its final three home games to be bowl-eligible, the biggest question left here in football season is where the Bulls will play that bowl game.
There's still much in play for USF, with a huge difference between 8-4 and a bowl-less 5-7 record. But presuming the most likely scenarios -- a solid 7-5 finish or barely-there 6-6 -- it certainly seems like a trip to the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl in St. Petersburg is most likely. The Big East could have all eight teams bowl-eligible, and with Notre Dame seemingly a lock for the Champs Bowl in Orlando, that leaves five bowl slots (BCS, Charlotte, NYC, Birmingham, St. Pete) and the potential for two or even three Big East teams being farmed out to other bowls whose leagues couldn't supply a team.
Check around the Internet for bowl projections, and you can find USF almost anywhere:
-- Foxsports.com (using Collegefootballnews.com) has perhaps the wildest bowl outlook for USF -- shipped to Dallas for the TicketCity Bowl on Jan. 2 against Purdue. The logic is if Houston makes the BCS as an undefeated league champ, C-USA might not be able to fill all its bowl slots.
-- The Orlando Sentinel, which has UCF going to St. Pete, has USF in New Orleans against Sun Belt champ Arkansas State on Dec. 17. Not complaining about a trip to New Orleans.
-- ESPN.com's latest projections are conservative, with Mark Schlabach not seeing the Bulls in any bowl and Brad Edwards putting them in St. Petersburg against UCF. To get eligible, the Knights will have to beat two other Conference USA teams on the bowl bubble, first at East Carolina (4-6) then at home against UTEP (5-5). Big East blogger Andrea Adelson has USF in St. Pete against an unnamed C-USA team, with three other Big East teams on the bowl bubble after the Bulls. And CBS Sports also has USF at the Trop against Tulsa.
-- The question, then, for Bulls fans: Would you rather have a bowl in St. Petersburg -- unremarkable, but easy for fans to get to -- or a bowl outside the Big East contracts like Dallas or New Orleans?