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Weather not a factor for USF

No. 23 South Florida (8-3, 2-3 Big East) will look to improve its Bowl Game possibilities and tie the school record for wins in a season this weekend when the team travels north to take on Big East rival Pittsburgh (4-6, 2-3 Big East).

After defeating Syracuse and Louisville in the last two weeks, the Bulls will be confident going into Saturday’s game. However, with the forecast calling for temperatures in the 30s or 40s, there has been some concern about the cold weather affecting the Bulls.

South Florida lost to Connecticut 15-10 in 2005, the only time the team has played in sub-40 degree weather.

“We don’t play in cold weather a whole bunch,” coach Jim Leavitt said. “I don’t particularly want to bring it down here to practice in it. We’ll just have to mentally envision coldness during practice.”

While their performance in colder environments have led some to call the Bulls a warm-weather team, quarterback Matt Grothe is hoping to change that image this weekend.

“I like playing in the cold weather, so it doesn’t bother me, but apparently we haven’t done too well in the cold,” Grothe said. “I know it’s supposed to be in the 40s, but with the sun out, it’ll probably feel a little warmer than that. It’s just a matter of playing football, the weather’s not going to be a factor.”

Along with the weather, South Florida will have to deal with a persistent Pittsburgh team that, according to Leavitt, has played better than its 4-6 record indicates and has faced bad breaks similar to the adversity the Bulls have experienced this season.

“Pittsburgh had some difficult situations at the end of games, much like us,” Leavitt said.

“It’s tough. I know exactly how they feel because I’ve been there. They’ve got an outstanding football team. Their defense is one of the best in the country.”

The Panthers’ defense is ranked ninth nationally in total defense, allowing 303.7 yards per game, and should be a challenge for Grothe and the Bulls, who are well aware of the effect a win Saturday could have on the school record books as well as bowl game possibilities.

“We know what’s at stake if we win this game,” Grothe said. “There’s some big bowls that we have a chance to go to – the Gator Bowl, the Sun Bowl and some other big-name ones. With a win this Saturday, it’ll tie the most wins ever here and give us an opportunity to win 10 games and go to a bowl, so it’s definitely a big thing for the school.”