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Big USF Bulls football crowd building for Kansas

TAMPA — With more than 50,000 tickets distributed for Friday's game against Kansas, USF announced Tuesday that it has opened the west side of the upper deck at Raymond James Stadium.

Tickets in the new sections range from $10 to $35, while tickets on the east-side upper deck are available for $25 and $30. Lower-level seats have only been available through season-ticket plans, which will continue to be sold through the Kansas game.

By crossing the 50,000-ticket plateau, Friday's crowd will be among the five largest ever for a Bulls home game, but likely will fall short of last year's two sellouts of 65,000-plus against West Virginia and Central Florida. Last year's home games against Louisville and Cincinnati drew more than 57,000.

REMEMBERING: Many USF players remember the 13-7 loss to Kansas in 2006, but linebacker Tyrone McKenzie remembers the 41-10 home loss he took while playing at Iowa State, the worst loss in a 4-8 season.

"They tried to run the ball more on us, and now they're passing more this year," McKenzie said. "I'm excited. You've got to be in shape and ready to go. I'm going to be running around, trying to make plays every chance I get. It's great to get out and play a Big 12 team again. More than that, we're playing Kansas. We're ranked, they're ranked, prime-time game. … It's a statement game that we need to win."

Another starting linebacker, Brouce Mompremier, nearly signed with Kansas, changing to USF on the last day before signing day. He remembers that current Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib was his host on an official visit.

"I hope they've forgotten about me," Mompremier said of Kansas fans. "I was very close to going there, and the decision was to stay close to home. I'll prepare the same way, but a win would be great for us because it's a ranked opponent."

The game's two offensive coordinators have a history as well — Kansas' Ed Warinner was the offensive line coach at Army for a decade when USF's Greg Gregory was the offensive coordinator there; Warinner succeeded Gregory in running Army's offense in 1998-99.

SPRING TRAINING: USF will be the host school for a three-day baseball tournament in Pinellas County called the Big East-Big Ten Challenge.

The entire Big Ten will compete, as well as eight Big East teams, with nine games each day split up at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Knology Park in Dunedin and Progress Energy Park in St. Petersburg. USF plays Michigan, Purdue and Indiana as part of the tournament, Feb. 20-22.

THIS AND THAT: USF defensive backs coach Troy Douglas said he expected big things from UCF receiver Rocky Ross, who scored the tying touchdown to force overtime Saturday. Ross, like Douglas, went to the Bolles School in Jacksonville. "He wears my number (5), so it crushed me that he scored that touchdown, but he's a pretty good player," Douglas said. "I didn't get a chance to tell him before the game that I was better than he was." … USF basketball is waiting to hear from the NCAA on a hardship waiver that would allow freshman forward Gus Gilchrist, a transfer from Maryland, to play this season. Football has gotten good news, as walk-on running back Joel Miller, a redshirt freshman from Wharton who came to USF in January after one semester at the Citadel, was granted such a waiver. He played on special teams Saturday and is the eighth hardship waiver granted for a USF football transfer in the past three seasons.

Greg Auman can be reached at auman@sptimes.com and at (813) 226-3346.

Big USF Bulls football crowd building for Kansas 09/09/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 10:57am]
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