The first St. Petersburg Bowl will take place just down the road from the University of South Florida's Tampa campus. However, this not a home game for the Bulls who play at Raymond James Stadium, which also serves as the home of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Instead, this game is being staged at Tropicana Field, a domed stadium that serves as the home of Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Rays.
The Bulls have made it to the bowl season in all four years of their membership in the Big East. Memphis is making its' fifth bowl appearance in the last six seasons.
This year, USF made it to the bowl season despite a 2-5 Big East record that only produced wins over the conference's bottom two teams, Louisville and Syracuse. Many expected the Bulls to challenge West Virginia for the Big East title, but it was Cincinnati that walked off with the crown.
USF broke from the gate with five straight wins, including a thrilling home victory over Kansas, but went 2-5 down the stretch and failed to score more than 17 points in any of their last four outings.
Quarterback Matt Grothe, a preseason darkhorse Heisman candidate, threw just 15 TD passes. Grothe threw 11 INT's in the last five games after tossing just 3 picks in the first seven games.
Somehow, USF still finished the season ranked 38th in total offense, and 39th in passing offense, both of which are up from a year ago. The Bulls' defense, led by defensive end George Selvie, rank 13th.
The Tigers rank 22nd on offense and 52nd on defense.
Memphis' season was on a par with expectations. The computer projected a 7-5 finish for the Tigers and its' preseason picks went 11-1 on Memphis games. The only miss was the 42-35 home loss to Rice in week two.
Curtis Steele ran for 1,175 yards and 7 TD's with six 100-yard-plus performances. QB Arkelon Hall threw for 2,121 yards despite missing two games and most of a third.
This game will be played on opening day of bowl season, December 20, on ESPN-2 beginning at 4:30 eastern.