Homecoming, bowl bid in minds of Leavitt and Bulls

Saturday’s Big East match between USF (5-3, 1-2) and Pittsburgh (6-2,2-1) isn’t just another conference game.

The Bulls’ first noon home game this season is also the school’s Homecoming game, and the result could have a big impact on the possible return to a bowl game.

Although last year’s Homecoming game was postponed because of a potential hurricane, this year’s game against the Panthers has a clear forecast.

Without overlooking the importance of winning the game, coach Jim Leavitt said his players want to play well in front of the Homecoming crowd.

“I think it means a lot to our guys,” Leavitt said Monday after practice. “We understand Homecoming is special, (and) I really appreciate the students (showing up).”

Along with playing its 10th homecoming game since the football program started, the meeting with the Panthers brings a chance for USF to get its sixth win of the season, which would make the Bulls bowl eligible.

Six wins was enough to get USF to the Meineke Car Care Bowl last season, but Leavitt has said all season he thinks the Bulls will need to win at least seven games to make it back to the postseason this year. And with the final two games coming on the road to No. 5 Louisville and No. 3 West Virginia, a homecoming win against Pittsburgh would help their chances.

Game time announced: USF announced Monday that its Nov. 11 home game against Syracuse will be played at noon. The game against the Orange will be the Bulls’ final home game of the season and will be aired locally on ABC 28.

Catching up with Solomon: Former USF basketball player Solomon Jones, who became the highest NBA Draft pick in school history last summer as the 33rd overall pick, made his preseason debut with the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.

Jones was 0-for-1 from the field, but made both of his free throw attempts while playing just five minutes in the Hawks’ 105-94 win against the Charlotte Bobcats. Atlanta opens its regular season Wednesday against Philadelphia.