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Taggart Bowl? USF-FSU still a possibility for Gasparilla

A slim chance remains that FSU's Willie Taggart could face his former team in the Gasparilla Bowl
Florida State head coach Willie Taggart disagrees with the referee in the first half of against Clemson. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
Florida State head coach Willie Taggart disagrees with the referee in the first half of against Clemson. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
Published Nov. 20, 2018

Regardless of Friday's outcome against UCF, most Bulls fans are resigned to the likelihood of their team being banished to a bowl game devoid of intrigue or relevance.

While that remains the most probable scenario, one juicy possibility's still in play; a bowl matchup that surely would go down as the most captivating in USF history.

How does Bulls vs. FSU in the Gasparilla Bowl strike you? Does the idea of Willie Taggart facing his old team — and a bunch of his former players — at Raymond James Stadium spark an enthusiasm unknown to mankind?

It could happen. If the 5-6 'Noles somehow can upset Florida in Tallahassee on Saturday, FSU becomes bowl-eligible. And it just so happens the ACC is the primary opponent for the American Athletic Conference in this year's Gasparilla Bowl, set for Dec. 20 at 8 p.m.

RELATED: Florida State's bowl streak still alive after comeback upset of Boston College

But like any tantalizing matchup, this one comes with positives and negatives.

As it stands, the Gasparilla is very low on the pecking order of ACC bowl tie-ins, meaning if FSU tops Florida, another game could snag the 'Noles. And we're not sure how crazy either coach — Taggart or Charlie Strong — would be about such a game. A loss would create really bad optics for both.

Moreover, the AAC has a history of wanting its best teams each year to play Power Five schools in bowl contests, meaning the league likely would be far more interested in, say, a Cincinnati-FSU matchup. But the conference also has a history of working with its bowl and TV partners to forge the best matchups.

And last we checked, bowl and TV executives (the Gasparilla is an ESPN-owned bowl) were interested in generating ratings and filling seats. This game would accomplish both as well as any inconsequential, pre-Christmas game could.

And Taggart and his staff likely wouldn't mind a few days in the Tampa Bay area, one of his recruiting hubs.

But it's all moot if the 'Noles lose Saturday. If they win?

To steal a Taggart line, the Gasparilla officials can have a great game … if they want to.


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