MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Given the huge boost of having a USF team located just 32 miles from Tropicana Field, the St. Petersburg Bowl wants nothing less than a sellout Dec. 20.
"The No. 1 thing we're thinking about is a sellout at the game," said Brett Dulaney, the bowl's executive director. "I've already talked to (USF athletic director) Doug (Woolard) and he's asking about extra tickets. I think it's a win-win for us and USF to have a bowl so close to home."
USF was to be officially invited to the inaugural St. Petersburg Bowl after Saturday night's game.
Selling out the Trop won't be nearly as hard as selling out Raymond James Stadium, because the Trop will seat just 33,000 for football. Each team is allotted 10,000 tickets, and USF's opponent is likely Memphis, which went 6-6 in Conference USA.
The Bulls haven't had an actual attendance of 33,000 in their past two home games, but Dulaney said he likes that many Tampa-area Bulls fans have a chance to see their team in a bowl for the first time. USF's previous bowls have been in Charlotte, N.C.; Birmingham, Ala.; and El Paso, Texas.
"I think a lot of people haven't had a chance to go to a (USF) bowl before," Dulaney said. "There are 90,000 alumni in the Tampa Bay area, and this gives them an opportunity to go to a bowl game. I think tickets are going to be in high demand."
All tickets are $30 and can be purchased through ticketmaster.com. For more information, visit the bowl's official site at stpetersburgbowl.com.
RECORD STREAK: WR Jessie Hester caught a 20-yard pass from Matt Grothe, giving him a USF record 21 consecutive games with at least one catch. The record of 20 had been held by Amarri Jackson (2006-07) and Hugh Smith (2000-02).
MILESTONE: West Virginia's Pat White became the first player in Big East history to amass 10,000 yards of total offense, getting 83 in the first half after coming in with 9,961. Last week against Pittsburgh, White passed former Syracuse quarterback Donovan McNabb (9,950) for the Big East record.
Grothe isn't far behind, entering the game with 9,670 yards, so he'll likely obliterate the record in his senior season.
THIS AND THAT: West Virginia got a busy first half from St. Petersburg Catholic grad Jock Sanders, who had 24 rushing yards and 9 yards on three receptions. … S Carlton Williams set a USF record with his 46th career start, moving ahead of former LB Stephen Nicholas and former CB Trae Williams. … USF had played only two previous games in temperatures under 40 degrees. The Bulls lost at Connecticut in 2005 and won at Pittsburgh last season. … USF entered the game having scored 20 points or fewer in four straight games, the first such stretch in their 12-year history.
Greg Auman can be reached at email@example.com and at (813) 226-3346. Check out his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/usf.