Tampa Bay Sports Day

COLLEGE BOWL NEWS: USF To Face South Carolina In Birmingham Bowl

TAMPA – USF Director of Athletics Mark Harlan has accepted a bid for the Bulls to represent the American Athletic Conference in the Birmingham Bowl vs. SEC foe South Carolina on Thursday, Dec. 29 at historic Legion Field (55,948, bowl capacity) in Birmingham, Ala.

The No. 22/25-ranked Bulls (10-2) will face the South Carolina (6-6; 3-5 SEC), in a 2:00 p.m. (ET) kickoff (1 p.m. CT) live on ESPN in the 11th annual Birmingham Bowl. The game will pit a stout Gamecocks’ defense that ranks among the national leaders in turnovers gained against the Bulls’ explosive Gulf Coast Offense. Auburn (7-6) downed Memphis (9-4), 31-10, in last year’s Birmingham Bowl in front of 59,430 fans. The Bulls gained the program’s first-ever bowl victory in the 2006 PapaJohns.com Bowl played at Legion Field.


“This is a great opportunity for our program to go out and show the country what we are all about and add another significant victory to a record-breaking season,” said USF Head Coach Willie Taggart, who guided the Bulls to a season-record 10 regular season victories. “We wanted to make going to bowl games a regular occurrence again at South Florida, so it’s great to be returning to a bowl for a second straight season and have the opportunity to play an SEC opponent in Birmingham.”

“It is exciting to be returning to a bowl game for the second straight season and we look forward to a terrific game in Birmingham at legendary Legion Field against South Carolina,” Harlan said. “Our student-athletes, coaches and fans are very deserving of this opportunity to finish a record-setting season on a high note. I look forward to seeing Bulls Nation represented well in Birmingham.”

USF will be making its eighth bowl appearance in just its 16th season of play at the FBS level. The Bulls are 4-3 in their previous seven bowl trips. USF fell to No. 25 Western Kentucky, 45-35, last year in the 2015 Miami Beach Bowl. This will be USF’s second trip to Birmingham to play a bowl game. The Bulls downed East Carolina, 24-7, for the program’s first-ever bowl victory in the 2006 PapaJohns.com Bowl at Legion Field.

The Bulls (10-2; 7-1 American) posted program records with 10 regular season wins and seven conference victories. USF won its final four regular season games to finish the regular season in the Top 25 rankings for just the second time in program history. USF brings a nation-leading streak of 16 straight games scoring at least 30 points into the postseason. USF had a program-record 10 players selected to the all-conference team, led by American Offensive Player of the Year Quinton Flowers at quarterback and three-time first-team selection Marlon Mack at running back. USF’s offense ranks No. 5 in the nation in rushing (291.8 ypc), No. 7 in scoring (43.6 ppg) and No. 10 in total offense (515.1 ypg). The Bulls set program records in total offense (6,181 yards), scoring (523 points), touchdowns (71), rushing yards (3,501) and rushing touchdowns (44).

The Bulls and Gamecocks have met once before with USC claiming a 34-3 victory in Columbia, S.C. on Sept. 18, 2004. USF was a member of Conference USA at the time and the game was the second of the 2004 season. USF is 1-5 all-time vs. SEC opponents, having downed No. 13-ranked Auburn, 26-23 (OT), in Auburn on Sept. 8, 2007 on the way to the Bulls reaching a No. 2 national ranking. This will be the first meeting vs. an SEC team in a bowl game and first overall since falling 38-14 at No. 8 Florida on Sept. 12, 2010. USF has previously faced Alabama (0-1), Arkansas (0-1), Auburn (1-0), Florida (0-1), Kentucky (0-1), and South Carolina (0-1) from the SEC.

South Carolina finished the regular season 6-6 overall and 3-5 in the East Division of the Southeastern Conference under first-year head coach Will Muschamp. The Gamecocks won four of their last six games to become bowl eligible, but lost to No. 3-ranked Clemson, a College Football Playoff participant, 56-7 in their final regular season contest at Clemson. USC defeated American Athletic Conference opponent ECU, 20-15, in Columbia earlier this year.