USF to face Marshall in Gasparilla Bowl

The Bulls, losers of five in a row, will remain home for the postseason
USF is hopeful of having quarterback Blake Barnett, nursing shoulder and ankle injuries, healthy enough to play in the Dec. 20 Gasparilla Bowl. [AP Photo | Sue Ogrocki]
USF is hopeful of having quarterback Blake Barnett, nursing shoulder and ankle injuries, healthy enough to play in the Dec. 20 Gasparilla Bowl. [AP Photo | Sue Ogrocki]
Published December 2 2018
Updated December 2 2018

In the wake of a regular season that began with seven consecutive wins but ended with a five-game skid, the Bulls are staying home for the bowl season.

Their fan base is left to determine whether that's a repercussion or reward.

Conference USA announced Sunday that USF (7-5) will face Marshall (8-4) in the Dec. 20 contest at Raymond James Stadium, the Bulls' home field. The 8 p.m. contest will be televised by ESPN, which operates the bowl.

Ticket and other game information can be found at this link. Bulls fans wishing to purchase tickets directly through the school can go here. The first 1,000 USF students to buy tickets for the game can get them at a discount rate of $10 each.

"We are excited for the opportunity to compete in a bowl game against a good opponent and the chance to send our seniors out with a third straight bowl win," USF coach Charlie Strong said in a statement released by the school.

"We look forward to some good practices and work with our team to prepare for the game. Our players will enjoy the activities and bowl experience here in the bay area and they are excited to get back out on the field and perform in front of our fans."

The game initially was slated to match an American Athletic Conference team against an ACC foe, but it is believed ESPN, which operates a number of bowls, did some 11th-hour re-shuffling of ACC teams in its bowl lineup.

The Bulls will be making their fourth consecutive bowl appearance and 10th overall, though this one arguably ranks as the most anticlimactic.

Hindered by injuries and an ineffective offensive scheme, USF averaged 19.8 points over its last five contests. For the year, it defeated one team (7-5 Georgia Tech) that finished the regular season with a winning record.

"I think our student-athletes will enjoy the many experiences the Gasparilla Bowl offers and the opportunity to play in front of a lot of our fans and USF students in the heart of Bulls country," Bulls athletic director Michael Kelly said.

"I look forward to seeing Bulls Nation out in force in Ray Jay."

Marshall, which finished second in Conference USA's East Division, had a three-game win streak snapped with Saturday's 41-20 loss to Virginia Tech.

The Herd's roster features six former bay area prep standouts including Largo High alumnus Frankie Hernandez, who ranks third on the team with 69 tackles and has a team-best three fumble recoveries.

The Gasparilla will mark the Herd's second December trip to Tampa in four seasons. Marshall topped Connecticut, 16-10, in the 2015 St. Petersburg Bowl at Tropicana Field.

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