(via USF Communications) - USF Director of Athletics Mark Harlan has accepted a bid for the Bulls to represent the American Athletic Conference in the Birmingham Bowl vs. Big 12 Conference foe Texas Tech (6-6; 3-6 Big 12) on Saturday, Dec. 23 at historic Legion Field (55,948, bowl capacity) in Birmingham, Ala.
The No. 23/24-ranked Bulls (9-2) will enter a bowl game ranked in the top 25, face a major conference opponent, and return to Birmingham for the second straight year. The Bulls will take on the Red Raiders in a 12:00 p.m. (ET) kickoff (11:00 a.m. CT) live on ESPN in the 12th annual Birmingham Bowl. USF downed South Carolina, 46-39, in overtime in last year’s Birmingham Bowl in front of 31,229 fans.
The 2017 game will pit a potent Bulls’ offense coming of a 653-yard performance at UCF and ranked No. 8 nationally in total offense (508.6 ypg) and No. 16 in scoring (38.3 ppg) against a prolific Red Radiers’ offense ranked No. 17 nationally in total offense (468.4 ypg) and No. 26 in scoring (34.3 ppg).
Birmingham Bowl tickets are $50 for seats and may be reserved by visiting GoUSFBulls.com or calling 1-800-GoBulls.
USF Students can purchase up to two deeply discounted ticket for $20.00 (plus service fees) compliments of USF Athletics. Students can log in to their USF Student Account to purchase tickets. Students may purchase additional guest tickets for $50, and all seats will be seated next to one another. Students who purchase a bowl game ticket will be notified on Monday, December 11th with further instructions regarding ticket pick up.
“This is an exciting bowl match-up and a chance for our team and this tremendous senior class to close the 2017 season with a win,” said USF Head Coach Charlie Strong. “It’s the third straight bowl game for our program and a chance to go out and try to beat an exciting opponent and get to double-digit wins for a second straight year. Our guys are excited to play.”
For fans that purchase tickets through USF in the official Bulls seating sections they will receive a commemorative bowl game ticket for each ticket they have purchased. Commemorative tickets will be mailed out to ticket purchasers in the early part of 2018.
“We are very excited to see the Bulls return to Birmingham to take on another high-level opponent in a bowl game,” Harlan said. “We had a great experience at the bowl last year and this is a great opportunity to see some of the most exciting and dynamic players in our program’s history close out their careers on a high note. I look forward to again seeing Bulls Nation out in force in Birmingham as we continue to make bowling an annual USF holiday season event.”
USF BOWL HISTORY
USF will be making its ninth bowl appearance, and third straight, in just its 17th season of play at the FBS level. The Bulls are 5-3 in their previous eight bowl trips. The No. 22-ranked Bulls downed South Carolina, 46-39, in overtime last year in the 2016 Birmingham Bowl to finish the season 11-2 and climb to No. 19 in the final polls. This will be USF’s second straight trip to the Birmingham bowl and third bowl appearance in Birmingham overall. The Bulls are 2-0 in Birmingham, having downed ECU, 24-7, in the 2006 PapaJohns.com Bowl at Legion Field.
USF will be facing a Big 12 Conference team in a bowl game for the first time. USF has faced two ACC opponents (1-1), one SEC (1-0), and one Pac-12 (0-1) opponent in bowl games.
The No. 23-ranked Bulls (9-2; 6-2 American) are riding a program-record string of 18 straight appearances in the top 25 polls. USF saw a program record-tying 10 players earn all-conference honors, including a record four earning first team recognition (G, Jeremi Hall, DT Deadrin Senat, LB Auggie Sanchez & K Emilio Nadelman). Senior quarterback Quinton Flowers is coming of a USF record performance with 605 total yards and 503 passing yards in the Bulls’ 49-42 loss at No. 13 UCF to close the regular season. The Bulls’ all-time total offense record holder with 11,385 yards, Flowers will enter the bowl game owning nearly 30 USF records and needing just 47 yards to set a new American Athletic Conference total offense record. He leads an offense that ranks eighth nationally in total offense (508.6 ypg) and 16th in scoring (38.3 ppg). Meanwhile, the defense saw five players earn all-conference honors and ranks third nationally in tackles for loss (8.5 tpg), 13th in sacks (3.00 spg) and 28th in total defense (342.5 ypg).
SERIES HISTORY WITH TEXAS TECH
This will be the first meeting between the Bulls and Red Raiders. USF has previously faced four Big 12 Conference teams, posting a 1-3 record. This will be the first meeting with a Big 12 team in a bowl game.
USF has previously faced Big 12 Conference opponents Baylor (L, 28-13 in 2000), Kansas (W, 37-34 in 2008 & L, 13-7 in 2006) and Oklahoma (L, 31-14 in 2002).
Texas Tech finished the regular season with a 27-23 victory at Texas. The Red Raiders are 6-6 on the year (3-6, Big 12) and will be making the 38th bowl appearance in program history. It will be the program’s first since falling 56-27 to LSU in the 2015 Texas Bowl. The Red Raiders are 14-22-1 in bowl games, but have won four of their last five appearances.
Texas Tech has long had one of college football’s most prolific offenses. This year the Red Raiders rank 17th in the nation in total offense (468.4 ypg) and 26th in scoring offense (34.3 ppg), much of which is generated by a passing attack that ranks 11th in the nation (326.8 ypg). Quarterback Nic Shimonek ranks 12th in the nation passing for 295.6 yards per game and 10th with 30 passing touchdowns. Receiver Keke Coutee ranks seventh nationally with 103.5 receiving yards per game and has 10 touchdowns.
Led by fifth-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury, the Red Raiders have wins over Eastern Washington (56-10), Arizona State (52-45), Houston (27-24), Kansas (65-19) and Baylor (38-24) as well as Texas on the year.
Built in 1927, Legion Field is one of the historic venues of college football. Known as “The Football Capital of the South” and “The Old Gray Lady,” Legion Field served as the site of the annual “Iron Bowl” between Alabama and Auburn from 1948 to 1988 and was an alternate home site for most of the 20th century for both teams, with Alabama playing at least three of its biggest home games there every year until 1998. It has served as the site for the Dixie Bowl (1947-48), Hall of Fame Bowl (1977-85), All-American Bowl (1986-90) and Birmingham Bowl (2006-current). It also hosted soccer matches during the 1996 Olympics.
Season ticket deposits for the 2018 season start at $50 per seat and can be placed at USFBullsTix.com. The Bulls will play six home games in Raymond James Stadium in 2018, hosting notable games vs. Georgia Tech and UCF.