TORONTO — The Mid-American Conference's bowl losing streak is at 13 consecutive games, including three this season, but USF coach Jim Leavitt said his team won't take Northern Illinois lightly when the Bulls meet the Huskies today in the International Bowl.
"I look at Northern Illinois and I know how good they are," Leavitt said Friday. "You've got two very good football teams that are going to play (today). They took apart Purdue and they had Wisconsin beat."
If the Huskies knock off USF, it would be historic for their conference. In the past 30 years, MAC teams have just one bowl win in eight tries against a school from a BCS conference — Bowling Green beat the Big Ten's Northwestern in the 2003 Motor City Bowl.
Since adopting its current lineup in 2005, the Big East is 7-0 in bowl games against non-BCS teams, including a 3-0 mark in Toronto.
NO SUSPENSIONS: Leavitt said he does not expect to have any players suspended from any part of today's game. USF had three players suspended from the first half of last year's bowl game in St. Petersburg for a violation of team rules.
"Everybody made curfew. Everything was right," said Leavitt, who let players stay out until 1 a.m. on New Year's Eve.
NEW BULLS FANS: USF sold only about 1,000 tickets out of the 10,000 allotted to the team by the bowl, but the Bulls have put some of the rest to good use. USF donated 920 tickets to the Toronto Children's Breakfast Club, with another 80 tickets given to the Crime Stoppers community program.
Northern Illinois also sold about 1,000 tickets, so today's attendance should be significantly down from last year's announced crowd of 40,184 to see Connecticut beat Buffalo.
RECORD WATCH: Junior RB Mike Ford needs two rushing touchdowns to match Andre Hall's USF career record of 24. … Junior WR Carlton Mitchell, already USF's career receiving yards leader, needs 50 receiving yards to break Hugh Smith's season record of 661 yards. … Junior Dontavia Bogan needs 25 yards on kickoff returns to break his season record of 770, set last season. … Senior CB Jerome Murphy should become the first Bull to play 52 career games.