Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

South Florida Bulls to play Memphis in St. Petersburg Bowl

TAMPA — USF's opponent for the inaugural St. Petersburg Bowl on Dec. 20 will be Memphis, a rival from the Bulls' days in Conference USA.

"We haven't made that step up yet, so we like the chance to play against a team from a BCS conference," said coach Tommy West, whose team won three of its last four to become bowl eligible. "We've played in the past and still have the same coaches, which is unusual. It's exciting for us to be coming to St. Petersburg."

Memphis was announced as the Bulls' opponent Sunday, and the two schools have met four times, with each team winning twice. The most recent meeting was a 31-15 home loss for the Bulls in 2004 after wins in 2002 and 2003.

The Tigers overcame an 0-3 start to become bowl eligible, their biggest wins coming against fellow 6-6 teams Southern Miss and Arkansas State. They played Louisville close, losing 35-28 at home to a team that defeated USF 24-20 this season.

Memphis has a solid running back in Curtis Steele, a 6-foot, 185-pounder with 1,175 yards (third in C-USA), seven touchdowns and a 5.7-yard average. Its top receiver, Carlos Singleton, is a huge target at 6-8 and 220 pounds with 50 catches for 759 yards and five touchdowns.

MAKE PLAYS: Offensive coordinator Greg Gregory said USF got in position to make game-winning plays in Saturday's 13-7 loss but couldn't execute when needed. Three times, the Bulls advanced inside the West Virginia 20 but failed to score.

"The opportunity for points was there. There's no doubt about that," Gregory said. "I felt like for the most part we executed except for a handful of plays. … You aren't going to score unless you make those plays against a good defensive team."

WAY DOWN: USF finished Big East play with a significant drop in scoring in conference games, 43 percent from last season. The Bulls went from 34.3 points per league game to 19.4, a difference of more than two touchdowns.

The Big East as a whole was more defense-dominated with overall scoring down 12.7 percent. USF's defense actually gave up fewer points in this year's conference games — five fewer than last year — but the net change was second-worst among the eight Big East defenses.

THIS AND THAT: Linebacker Tyrone McKenzie had 11 tackles, giving him 105 for the season, his third straight year with at least 100. He also had three tackles for loss, giving him 14 for the year and pushing him ahead of defensive end George Selvie (121/2) for the team lead. … Quarterback Matt Grothe has 14 interceptions, the same as his first two seasons.

fast facts

St. Petersburg Bowl

Who: USF (7-5) vs. Memphis (6-6)

When/where: 4:30 p.m. Dec. 20; Tropicana Field


Tickets: $30; or (727) 898-7297.

South Florida Bulls to play Memphis in St. Petersburg Bowl 12/07/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 9, 2008 2:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs-Vikings: What if O.J. Howard and Dalvin Cook had both been taken?


    So what if the Bucs had taken neither O.J. Howard nor Dalvin Cook with the 19th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft?

    Bucs tight end O.J. Howard (80) makes a reception as Chicago Bears free safety Eddie Jackson (39) tackles him Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  2. Wish the Bucs had taken Dalvin Cook? Read this


    It will happen sometime Sunday afternoon.

    Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) carries the ball in the second quarter Monday night, Sept. 11, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn.  (Jeff Wheeler/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)
  3. Bucs-Vikings: What could make Tampa Bay's defense elite again


    TAMPA — The last time the Bucs had a top-five defense also happens to be when they last appeared in the postseason.

    Bucs outside linebacker Lavonte David (54) celebrates after recovering a fumble by Chicago Bears quarterback Mike Glennon (8) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Steven Stamkos making exhibition debut for Lightning


    Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is curious how he'll feel - and play - in tonight's exhibition game against Nashville.

    Steven Stamkos takes a knee while huddling up with the team on the ice during training camp in Brandon last week.
  5. Quick snaps: Florida's streak, FSU's true freshman QB and UCF's prolific offense



     Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain shakes hands with Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops at the end of the game between the University of Florida and the University of Kentucky in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, in Gainesville, Fla. Florida defeated Kentucky 45-7.