December 19, 2008

magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl Preview

Memphis (6-6) vs. South Florida (7-5)
2:30 P.M. (MT), ESPN 2
Announcers:  Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman, Rob Stone
St. Petersburg, FL, Tropicanna Field

Last Five Bowl Games

Memphis:  3-2 (6th Bowl appearance All-Time; Last Year:  New Orleans, Florida Atlantic 27-44, Loss)

South Florida:  1-2 (4th straight Bowl appearance. Last Year:  Sun, Oregon 21-56, Loss)

Players To Watch

Memphis:  Curtis Steele, Running Back

It's not every day you see a Junior College player dominate in his first season in FBS after transferring from the JUCO ranks.  Steele did just that rushing for 1,175 yards this season and 7 TDs.  Steele was the first 1,000 yard rusher since current Carolina Panther D'Angelo Williams was rushing for NCAA records at Memphis in 2005.  Steele had six games with over 100 yards rushing.  In those six games the Tigers went 6-0.  In the six losses, Steele rushed for under 100.  Steele needs to have a big-game to keep the Tigers in it.

South Florida:  Tyrone McKenzie, Linebacker

Defensive End George Selvie gets all the press clippings, but McKenzie is the glue to this Bulls defense that ranks in the Top 15 in Total Defense despite being put in many bad situations due to their turnover happy offense.  McKenzie racked up 105 tackles this season including 13 Tackles For Loss.  McKenzie was a 1st Team All-Big East selection.


Another new bowl game, this one being played in St. Petersburg, Florida at Tropicanna Field, home of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.  Tropicanna Field is less than 30 miles away from South Florida's campus so it is essentially a home game, and I wouldn't expect there to be many Memphis Tigers fans making the trip.

South Florida had a lot of pre-season buzz this season as the team in the Big East to de-throne West Virginia off the top and become the league champion.  The Bulls started the season 5-0 and were in the Top 10 for the second time in school history (the first being last season).  A loss to Pitt on a Thursday night, and the wheels started to fall off for the Bulls who ended up losing five of their last seven ball games.

USF Quarterback Matt Grothe who everyone on ESPN seemed to adore at the mid-way point of the season showed his true colors down the stretch.  Throwing seven of his 14 interceptions in the last five games of the season.  Grothe led the Bulls yet again in rushing yards totaling 508, but it wasn't as efficient and productive as in 2007.

The Bulls defense on the other hand has been solid this entire season, despite injuries to key players including Georgie Selvie who hasn't been the same explosive player off the edge we saw in '07.  USF will have to shut down the Memphis rushing attack and they should get the victory in this one.  Should be a low-scoring affair but with South Florida being practically at home, and their team is trying to salvage some momentum going into 2009 the Bulls come out on top in this one and get their second bowl victory in school history.


South Florida 13  Memphis 10

Excitement Level For This Game (1 - Rather watch re-runs of ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas to 5 - I will go streaking with this bowl game's logo tattooed on my ass cheeks): 

1.  Fire up The Year Without a Santa Claus, this game is gonna be boring.

Gunaxin Bowl Coverage of the St. Petersburg Bowl

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