Live blog: How many fans will show?
Greetings from Tropicana Field, where kickoff is now only 15 minutes away for the inaugural St. Petersburg Bowl. The first question to be answered: Just how many fans will show up to see USF and Memphis?
What would make a respectable attendance for the first year, given that the Trop is only configured for 33,000 seats to begin with? There are huge patches of empty seats in the lower level -- the extra-point shots of the end zone behind the visiting dugout are not going to be pretty for TV. I'm looking at one section that literally has one couple occupying an entire lower-level section of 23 rows.
The announced attendance will be somewhat misleading, because the two schools are each on the hook for 10,000 tickets, so this game started with a crowd of 20,000 the instant teams were announced. Memphis returned more than 8,000 tickets from their allotment, so you're looking at a crowd of about 12,000 plus whatever tickets were sold independent of the two schools.
No big surprises among the players not dressing for today's game. Lots of guys who have been battling injuries -- tight end Trent Pupello, who has a herniated disc in his neck from a car accident the week of the Louisville game, is out, as is receiver Colby Erskin, who hasn't played in some time as well. Tackle Danny Tolley, who had dressed for some of the games late in the season, isn't dressed, nor is kickoff specialist Justin Teachey, who's missed the second half of the season with a quad injury.
-- Basketball update: USF's women improved to 10-1 with an 82-43 home win against Northern Arizona. The Bulls continue to maul opponents in turnover margin, forcing 35 while committing just 18. Guard Jazmine Sepulveda led the team with 17 points and no player logged more than 25 minutes. Lots of big stats -- Porche Grant had 15 rebounds, Brittany Denson had five blocks, Jasmine Wynne had six assists. The Bulls haven't had many close games in these first 11, so I wonder if that will hurt them when they get into tight finishes in Big East play ...