(via USF Communications) - USF Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly has accepted a bid for the Bulls (7-5; 3-5 AAC) to represent the American Athletic Conference in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl vs. Marshall (8-4; 6-2 C-USA) on Thursday, Dec. 20 in an 8 p.m. kickoff at Raymond James Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN.
“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 head coach Charlie Strong said. “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.”
Gasparilla Bowl tickets may be reserved by calling 1-800-GoBulls or by following the below links. Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets through USF allotment in the official Bulls seating section. USF football 2018 season ticket members who renew their season tickets for the 2019 season prior to Dec. 15 will receive two complimentary tickets to the Gasparilla Bowl.
The first 1,000 USF students to purchase bowl tickets will be able to do so at a discounted price of $10.00 (plus service fees) in honor of the Bulls’ 10th bowl game, compliments of USF Athletics. Students can log in to their USF student account to purchase tickets and may purchase additional guest tickets for $25 (while seats last) with all seats located next to one another. Students who purchase bowl game tickets will receive an e-mail with further instructions regarding ticket pick up.
Additional information regarding university hosted activities surrounding the bowl game will be forthcoming.
USF (7-5; 3-5 American) will be making its fourth straight bowl appearance and 10th overall. The Bulls have won each of their last two bowl games, downing Texas Tech (38-34) and South Carolina (46-39 in OT) in back-to-back Birmingham Bowl appearances, and have won five of their last six bowl games.
The Bulls will take on a Conference USA opponent for the fourth time in a bowl game, third time in the state of Florida, and are 2-1 in the previous match-ups. Marshall finished second in the East Division of Conference USA. The Thundering Herd will be making the program’s 15th bowl appearance, fifth in the last six seasons, and own an 11-3 bowl record.
“Playing in a bowl game is always a great way to culminate a season and we are very excited to be taking part in our fourth straight bowl,” Kelly said. “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. I look forward to seeing Bulls Nation out in force in Ray Jay.”
USF BOWL HISTORY
USF will be making its fourth straight bowl appearance and 10th overall in just its 19th season competing at the FBS level. The run of four straight bowls is the second longest in program history behind six straight from 2005-10. The Bulls are 6-3 in their previous nine bowl trips, including wins in the last two and in five of the last six.
The No. 23-ranked Bulls downed Texas Tech, 38-34, last year in USF’s second straight appearance in the Birmingham Bowl. A No. 22-ranked USF team beat South Carolina, 46-39, the previous year in Birmingham.
USF will be making its third bowl appearance in the state of Florida and is 1-1 in the previous appearances. The Bulls downed Conference USA opponent Memphis, 45-14, in the 2008 MagicJack St. Petersburg Bowl and fell to Conference USA opponent Western Kentucky, 45-35, in the 2015 Miami Beach Bowl.
USF finished the 2018 regular season with a 7-5 record (3-5 American Conference). The Bulls saw three players earn all-conference selection led by first team tight end Mitchell Wilcox (Tarpon Springs) who set program season records for a tight end with 40 receptions for 506 yards. Linebacker Khalid McGee (Miami) earned second team honors after finishing second in the conference with 9.5 tackles per game. Sophomore cornerback Mike Hampton was an honorable-mention selection after ranking second in the conference and ninth nationally in passes defended with 17.
USF has run for 202.5 yards per game, part of an offense that is averaging 444.2 yards per game behind first-year starting quarterback Blake Barnett. Barnett ranks 25th nationally passing for 249.3 yards per game and his 2,498 passing yards on the year are on pace for a top five season at USF. Junior Jordan Cronkrite became just the fifth Bull to run for 1,000 yards in a season and stands 24th nationally running for 99.5 yards per game. Freshman Johnny Ford has also logged 737 rushing yards and ranks 10th nationally with 7.09 yards per carry. Senior Tyre McCants leads the Bulls with 58 receptions, the third-best season mark in program history, and 612 yards. Senior Ronnie Hoggins ranks second to McGee with 76 tackles on the year while senior Josh Black leads the Bulls with 10.0 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks.
SERIES HISTORY WITH MARSHALL
The Bulls and Thundering Herd have never met on the football field.
Marshall, located in Huntington, West Virginia, began playing football in 1895 and owns 574 wins, 13 conference titles, an 11-3 bowl record and 44 All-Americans. They won I-AA national championships in 1992 and 1996 before moving to the FBS level in 1997.
The 2018 Thundering Herd posted an 8-4 record, going 6-2 in Conference USA games and 2-2 in non-conference action. Marshall won at Miami (OH) (35-28) and downed Eastern Kentucky (32-16) in non-conference action and fell to ACC opponents North Carolina State (37-20) and at Virginia Tech (41-20). Their conference losses came to East Division champion Middle Tennessee (34-24) and at Southern Mississippi (26-24) while they had significant wins at FIU (28-25) and over FAU (31-7) and Charlotte (30-13).
Led by senior linebacker Chase Hancock’s 8.9 tackles per game, The Herd defense ranks 23rd nationally giving up 335.58 yards per game and 32nd allowing 22.0 points per game. They are particularly tough against the run, ranking ninth nationally allowing just 103.9 yards per game on the ground. They also rank fifth nationally averaging 3.25 sacks per game and 19th nationally with 23 takeaways on the season.
The Herd offense is led by redshirt freshman quarterback Isaiah Green who has passed for 2,238 yards with 15 touchdowns. Senior receiver Tyre Brady has caught 66 passes for 914 yards and nine touchdowns while sophomore running back Tyler King leads the team with 655 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. The offense ranks 81st nationally posting 384.5 yards per game and 77th scoring 27.4 points per game. Marshall has turned the ball over 24 times on the year to rank 112th nationally.