Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Gators

USF has had an ‘X’ on Gators game for years. It’s finally here.

UF coach Dan Mullen said he expects a “rocking stadium” in Tampa on Saturday.
The Florida Gators will be in Raymond James Stadium on Saturday for the first time since their Outback Bowl win over Iowa.
The Florida Gators will be in Raymond James Stadium on Saturday for the first time since their Outback Bowl win over Iowa. [ Times (2017) ]
Published Sep. 5

USF offensive lineman Brad Cecil made a confession before the season started.

His Bulls never wanted to look past an opponent, including the opener at North Carolina State. But the Week 2 home game against the Florida Gators?

“That one’s got an X on the schedule,” Cecil said.

The date arrives Saturday at Raymond James Stadium in the first game of a three-game series between the schools. UF is scheduled to host the Bulls in 2022 and ‘25.

Gators coach Dan Mullen said he expects USF to have “a rocking stadium” with a “big-time atmosphere” for UF’s first road game against the Bulls and its first trip to Tampa since the January 2017 Outback Bowl.

Related: Why Dan Mullen wanted the Florida Gators-USF football series

When the game was announced, Mullen said that he liked the idea of UF playing in an NFL stadium that’s close to many players’ families. Administrators liked that UF’s payouts ($750,000 total for two games) are a lot smaller than the seven-figure guarantees some non-conference teams charge.

Cecil has been hyped about the game since it was announced in 2018.

“That was in the back of our head, dating back to then,” Cecil said.

And it was in the back of the Bulls’ heads all offseason. When they were lifting weights, they’d say —somewhat jokingly — that they were adding another 10 pounds for UF, or another 15 for North Carolina State.

With the Wolfpack game over, USF will finally, fully turn its attention to the Gators, and a big opportunity the Bulls have been thinking about for years.

• • •

Never miss out on the latest with the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Florida college sports and more. Follow our Tampa Bay Times sports team on Twitter and Facebook.