The uncertainty surrounding the Bulls second bowl appearance became a little clearer.
Texas Bowl media relations director Zac Emmons considers USF a “strong candidate” for the game Dec. 28, in which the Bulls would play against a team from the Big 12.
“Right now I’d say the top three teams for the Texas Bowl are Rutgers, West Virginia and South Florida,” Emmons said. “I think those teams are the ones most likely we’ll get but we’ll find out this weekend.”
The Texas Bowl is making its debut this season, as a new sponsor is replacing the EV1.net Houston Bowl. Reliant Stadium, home of the Houston Texans will host the game.
Interest in the Bulls increased after Saturday’s 24-19 victory over the Mountaineers.
“USF is a good team and I wasn’t surprised when they best West Virginia to tell you the truth,” said Sun Bowl executive director Bernie Olivas. “South Florida has great facilities and I see them becoming one of the best teams in their conference.”
“South Florida is one of the up-and-coming programs in America,” Emmons said. “Their victory over West Virginia shows that they’re capable of playing with, and beating, anybody.”
Olivas said he flew into Tampa Sept. 29 when the Bulls fell 22-20 to Rutgers, as potential schools are scouted for bowl games almost immediately as the season begins.
The bowl selection process includes creating the best possible matchup of teams, considerations of how fans travel throughout the season and to previous bowls and which teams will draw local interest.
Saturday’s victory over then No. 7 West Virginia has fans taking notice of South Florida.
The Big East still has a possibility of both Rutgers and Louisville reaching a BCS Bowl game. And if that happens, USF may wind up in Reliant Stadium for the inaugural Texas Bowl.
NFL Network has the exclusive broadcasting rights to the game and the event has already sold 33,000 tickets, even though the participants won’t be announced until Dec. 3.
If the Bulls accept an invitation to the Texas Bowl, coach Jim Leavitt may square off against his former team-the Kansas State Wildcats.
Leavitt’s tenure at Kansas State began in 1990 when he served as linebacker coach for two seasons. During 1992, Leavitt was promoted to defensive coordinator, a position he held for four seasons before becoming the first USF head coach on Dec. 12 1995.
No matter which team the Bulls play or what bowl the team travels to, Leavitt is looking forward to the postseason possibilities.
“If we got an invitation to a parking lot, we’d have a great time,” Leavitt said. “We’re never going to say we are too good to be in this or that bowl, I promise you. That will never happen as long as I’m here. If we are fortunate enough to get an invitation, we are very fortunate.”