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Saturday's home sellout against Miami, just the third in USF's history, helped raise the Bulls' average announced attendance for 2009 to 52,553 fans, about 600 short of the program's record turnout in 2007.
The Bulls' 31-10 loss to the Hurricanes drew an announced 66,469, a figure second only to USF's 2007 sellout against West Virginia. The 2009 average represents a 5.8 percent increase from last year's announced average of 49,690, especially considering that season-ticket sales were down about 13 percent.
And if you look at actual attendance -- the turnstile count of fans really there, as opposed to the number of tickets distributed -- the Bulls are up 10 percent from last year. Saturday's actual attendance was 56,762, and that brought USF's average actual attendance to 41,378, a significant raise from last year's actual average of 37,598.
Saturday's actual attendance was higher than every Bucs home game since the season opener against the Cowboys, giving USF two of the three largest crowds in Raymond James Stadium this season.
Despite USF's increase, the Bulls will likely drop from second to third in the Big East attendance standings. West Virginia, averaging 57,317 fans this season, should keep the title it held last season. USF is second right now, but Pittsburgh, averaging 51,789, should jump ahead with a strong final crowd for Saturday's game against Cincinnati, which has the league's automatic BCS berth on the line.
It's likely USF will see a dropoff in attendance in 2010, when the Bulls' most high-profile opponents are on the road in games at Florida and Miami. USF has four Big East home games, which is a plus, but the nonconference home dates are against Western Kentucky (0-11 this season), Florida Atlantic (4-7) and Division I-AA Stony Brook.