Bowl projections: Where will USF football end up?

By Staff Report
On November 25, 2018

After a promising 7-0 start to the season, USF has lost its last five games, which could play a part in deciding where the Bulls are invited to play their bowl game. 
ORACLE PHOTO/SAM NEWLON

After losing to No. 9 UCF 38-10 on Friday at Raymond James Stadium, USF football is 7-5.

The good news is, despite the five-game losing streak the Bulls ended the regular season on, USF is bowl eligible for the fourth-straight season.

In September, when USF was still undefeated, The Oracle discussed which bowl games would be the best for USF to play in, though made no predictions where the Bulls would actually finish their season.

Let’s do that now.

Here are the thoughts of the four Oracle writers who have covered USF football for the majority of the 2018 season.

Brian Hattab, Staff Writer

AutoNation Cure Bowl vs. Sun Belt — Dec. 15 — 2:30 p.m. — Camping World Stadium — Orlando

USF isn’t going to play a Power Five opponent, so any of those bowls are out of the question at this point. The AAC likely wants its best teams to play Power Five opponents during bowl season, and this year, the Bulls were not one of the conference’s better teams, going 3-5 in conference play.

There was a representative from the Cure Bowl at Friday’s War on I-4 game against UCF, so that’s a pretty strong sign that the Cure Bowl is at least interested in USF.

It’s not staying home to play in Tampa nor is it a third-straight trip to Birmingham, so that’s good. But as far as the fan experience would go, Camping World Stadium in Orlando is pretty old and not that fun. Additionally, playing in your rival’s old stadium in a mid-December bowl game isn’t exactly a great look.

But, it’s an actual road trip and it’s not to Birmingham, which probably doesn’t want USF as much as USF doesn’t want it.

Jeremy Johnson, Correspondent

Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl vs. FAU — Dec. 18 — 7 p.m. — FAU Stadium — Boca Raton

Playing in the Boca Raton Bowl would be a change for USF, as the past two years it has played in the Birmingham Bowl.  Rather than having to travel to Alabama, the Bulls could stay in their home state.

Although the Bulls could play in Florida and have the ability to draw in more hometown fans, FAU Stadium holds less than 30,000 seats. Compared with Legion Field, which holds over 70,000. Similarly, Raymond James Stadium holds over 65,000.

Playing FAU in its home stadium wouldn’t be the best for USF, but it would be different. The biggest positive for the location change, though, would be the nice beaches of Boca Raton.

Steven Gerardy, Correspondent

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl vs. UAB — Dec. 20 — 8 p.m. — Raymond James Stadium — Tampa

The USF Bulls, losers of five games in a row, will go bowling this season, but it will likely be in its home stadium on Dec. 20. The Bulls beat Tulsa on Oct. 12 to gain bowl eligibility, then abruptly lost five of their next six games.

The Bulls have played in three bowl games in a row, winning the last two. They have played in the Birmingham Bowl the last two seasons, this time, however, they could be inviting an Alabama school to its home turf.

Alabama-Birmingham would make the 600-mile trip to Raymond James Stadium to play a reeling USF squad. It will be business as usual for the Bulls, who will essentially be playing a home game. USF won’t disappoint in Tampa and will be victorious in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.

Sam Newlon, Associate Editor

AutoNation Cure Bowl vs. Sun Belt — Dec. 15 — 2:30 p.m. — Camping World Stadium — Orlando

It’s almost a certainty that USF won’t travel to Birmingham for its bowl game at the end of this season. It’s also tough to believe that the Bulls will be given an opportunity to play at home against a Power Five opponent, which would be at Raymond James Stadium for the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.

As previously mentioned, there was a representative from the AutoNation Cure Bowl at the War on I-4 on Friday. More than just walking around in the press box and watching the game, however, the representative was on the field having a conversation with Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly before the teams took the field.

It’s not clear what the two were discussing, but I haven’t seen any other representatives from any other bowl games at a USF game this entire season.

What the experts say

Eric Single, Sports Illustrated

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl vs. Wake Forest

Jerry Palm, CBS Sports

AutoNation Cure Bowl vs. Louisiana-Monroe

Mitch Sherman, ESPN

Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman vs. Georgia Tech

Kyle Bonagura, ESPN

Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl vs. FIU

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