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)

Bowl picture murky for USF Bulls and Big East

TAMPA — With three weeks left in the regular season, the Big East's bowl picture remains as murky as ever, with Notre Dame and the BCS complicating the projections of which team might play where.

USF needs one more win to be bowl eligible, and despite online models that have the Bulls playing all the way up in Toronto or returning to St. Petersburg, the most likely match is the Bowl in Birmingham, Ala. Many questions remain before anything can be official.

• Will Notre Dame take the Big East's spot in the Gator Bowl? If Connecticut beats the slumping Fighting Irish this week, it becomes more likely that the Big East runnerup (perhaps Pittsburgh) plays in Jacksonville. If the Irish (6-4) get a seventh win this weekend or at Stanford, they will still be a tempting pick for the Gator, even against a nine- or 10-win Big East option.

• Could the Big East land a BCS at-large spot? It's unlikely, but if Cincinnati and Pittsburgh were to win their remaining games until their Dec. 5 meeting and the Panthers won a close game at home, you wonder if a one-loss Cincinnati team with a hot coach could get the nod for the Sugar Bowl's final BCS pick over two-loss teams such as Iowa, Oklahoma State or Penn State.

• Does anyone benefit from USF returning to Tropicana Field? The Bulls can't want their bowl experience for the second year in a row to be a 45-minute drive across the bay. Central Florida makes sense on the Conference USA side of the bowl, which should help the second-year game with attendance. That would allow the bowl to line up a northern Big East team on the other side.

The Big East has the same payout for its lowest three bowls, in St. Petersburg, Birmingham and Toronto, so it can arrange the teams to find the optimal matches for all three games.

The most likely scenario has Rutgers and USF left for bowls in Birmingham and St. Petersburg, and rather than repeat last year's pairings, the league would be more likely to send the Bulls to Alabama and bring the Scarlet Knights to Tropicana Field.

Home test: Despite being ranked in the top 15 for most of the season, the USF men's soccer team (13-3-3) missed a first-round bye in the NCAA Tournament, in part because of a poor RPI rating. So the Bulls are at home Thursday night for a first-round match against Stetson, which has former Bulls men's and women's coach Logan Fleck coaching the Hatters.

If the Bulls get past the Hatters — they beat them 3-0 in an August exhibition — they will go Sunday to top-seeded Akron, which is 20-0-0 and beat the Bulls 3-1 in a preseason exhibition.

This and that: Softball coach Ken Eriksen announced five signings Tuesday, including Pinellas Park left-hander Sara Nevins and twins Ashli and Courtney Goff of Sickles. … Volleyball, having won nine Big East games, its best total in five seasons in the league, opens play Friday in the conference tournament. The sixth-seeded Bulls face third seed Pittsburgh, which handed USF a five-set loss last month.

Greg Auman can be reached at and at (813) 226-3346. Check out his blog at and follow him at

Bowl picture murky for USF Bulls and Big East 11/17/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 9:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. NHL All-Star Game logo revealed


    The NHL released its official logo for the 2018 All-Star Game, which will be held at Amalie Arena in Tampa Jan. 28. It's fitting there's palm trees, water and a sunset tones in the logo.

  2. For starters: Rays at Orioles, with Cobb on hill, Beckham in lineup


    UPDATE, 3:46: After sitting out Thursday in recovering from extraction of a tooth, former Rays SS Tim Beckham is in the Orioles lineup tonight for his first game against his ex-mates, batting leadoff and playing short.

  3. Bucs defensive end Chris Baker (90) is seen during training camp last month at One Buc Place. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Bucs' defensive attributes in opener included flexibility


    TAMPA — It's a blink-and-you-miss-it nuance, but in Sunday's opener against Chicago, on their very first defensive snap, the Bucs lined up in a 3-4 defense.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter shakes hands with cornerback Brent Grimes (24) before an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times 

  5. 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]