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Louisville, USF announce future three-game series

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This is one we would’ve liked to have seen when Lamar Jackson and Quinton Flowers would’ve been taking the field.

Be that as it may, Louisville and USF announced Thursday morning that the football programs have reached an agreement on a future three-game series.  The Cardinals will travel to South Florida for Sept. 21, 2024, for the middle game of the series.  The Bulls will head to Papa John’s Stadium Sept. 24, 2022, and Sept. 19, 2026.

“The USF and Louisville programs have featured some of the most exciting players in college football over the last few seasons,” USF athletic director Mark Harlan said in a statement. “We are excited to have Louisville returning to Raymond James Stadium and to add a three-game series with an exciting, top-level opponent with which we share a great deal of history.”

Tne two schools have met in football 11 times previously, most coming when both were members of the now-defunct Big East conference. They first played in 2003, with the last matchup coming in 2013.

The Cardinals hold a 6-5 lead in the mini-series.

Florida politician stumps for UCF and USF to the Big 12

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Remember when the Big 12 was flirting with possible expansion and toying with the minds of alleged Big 12 candidates before ultimately sweeping the rug out from under the schools lobbying for inclusion in the conference? Among the list of potential targets were UCF and USF, and now a Florida politician is looking to capitalize on the success of each school’s recent football season in an attempt to win some brownie points from voters.

Republican Representative Bobby Olszewski has written a letter to Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, making sure the commissioner of the conference has not forgotten just how valuable the additions of UCF and USF could, in theory, be for the Big 12. The focus, of course, comes in with the all-important television ratings.

“More than ever during the college football season, we saw how important television ratings are to bowl games, the conferences, and the College Football Playoff,” Olszewski writes. “With UCF and USF representing the greater Central Florida and Tampa Bay media markets, our annual “War on I-4″ was one of the top television rated games this season en route to a 123 and 10 win season respectively for the UCF Knights and USF Bulls as well as both with top 25 final rankings.”

There have been no hints of possible expansion for the Big 12 on the horizon since the conference last openly discussed the idea, and the success of UCF and USF is not going to be enough to attract the Big 12 to re-opening the discussion again just yet. There may come a time when the Big 12 feels the itch to expand again, but the last time it discussed the idea it led to a complete meltdown. The Big 12 is doing just fine right now, but it could also be the conference in most need of some upgrades if the realignment fun does kick up again. And when it does, expect UCF and USF lobbyists pushing for the elusive Big 12 invite once again.

Helmet sticker to SB Nation.

Quinton Flowers leads USF to wild come-from-behind victory in Birmingham Bowl

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The 2017 season may not have checked off all of the goals for USF (11-2), but Charlie Strong and the Bulls have reason to celebrate at the end of the season after winning a wildly entertaining Birmingham Bowl with a 38-34 victory over Texas Tech (6-7) on Saturday afternoon. USF quarterback Quinton Flowers was the hero fo the day after putting the Bulls on his back in the second half, shrugging aside a woeful first half to pull USF from behind for the win.

Flowers ended his day with an MVP performance with 311 passing yards and four touchdowns and 106 rushing yards. It was Flowers who had to step things up in the fourth quarter, leading the Bulls to three touchdowns in the final quarter by using his feet and his arm to work the late game heroics.

Early in the fourth quarter, and just one play after an instant replay confirmed a call on the field marking the ball shy of the end zone, USF tried muscling their way across the goal line only to be overmatched by Texas Tech’s defensive effort to keep Darius Tice just out of the end zone on fourth down.

The Texas Tech stop preserved a seven-point advantage, but the battle of field position would still end up helping USF. After forcing a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, USF took over at the Texas Tech 43-yard line and worked their way into the end zone, this time ending the drive with Flowers running off to the right side to find a clear path for a game-tying touchdown.

Texas Tech took a 27-24 lead with just over five minutes to play with a 33-yard field goal by Clayton Hatfield, setting the stage for USF quarterback Quinton Flowers to try and deliver some last-minute heroics in his final college football game. Flowers needed just two plays before giving the Bulls a 31-27 lead on a 64-yard touchdown pass to a streaking Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

Texas Tech answered with a touchdown of their own, with T.J. Vasher somehow getting left wide open in the end zone for an easy touchdown pass from Nic Shimonek.

But the Red Raiders left Flowers and the Bulls too much time to strike back, and strike back they most certainly did. Flowers once again delivered the heroics with a key 21-yard run on a 3rd and 10 and followed that up with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Tyre McCants to go up 38-34 after the extra point.

The legacy of Quinton Flowers at USF will be one that will be remembered fondly, even if it never saw a trip to a BCS or New Years Six bowl game. But Flowers will leave with a handful of team records and his shoes will be big to fill for whoever is next in line in Tampa. After coming up just shy of an elusive AAC championship after a wild shootout loss against UCF in the regular season finale, it is fitting to see Flowers go out having led his team to a wild back-and-forth victory in a bowl game.

For three quarters, it appeared as though Texas Tech may get by the game using its defense, going against the grain of what is typically expected from a Texas Tech team. All of that crumbled in the fourth quarter, however, despite the goal line stand highlighted above. USF had over 400 yards of offense in the second half after a lackluster first half showing, and the Bulls edges the Red Raiders in first downs with 27 to Texas Tech’s 26.

The AAC improves to 2-1 in the bowl season with the win after Temple took care of FIU on Thursday night. Texas Tech gets the Big 12 off to a 0-1 start in the bowl season with the next games played on Tuesday by West Virginia (vs. Utah in Heart of Dallas Bowl) and Kansas State (vs. UCLA in Cactus Bowl).

Texas Tech’s 2018 season will open with a neutral site game in Houston against Ole Miss of the SEC on Sept. 1, 2018. USF will begin the 2018 season at home on Sept. 1 against FCS opponent Elon. The Bulls will then host Georgia Tech and visit Illinois the following two weeks.

Shanked punt leads to USF tying Birmingham Bowl just before halftime

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After not doing much of anything on offense in the first half, USF capitalized on a late special teams mistake by Texas Tech to be able to tie the Birmingham Bowl at 10-10 just before halftime.

After a shanked punt by Texas Tech, USF took over at the Texas Tech 25-yard line. Two plays later, Quinton Flowers completed a 21-yard pass to Tyre McCants for the first touchdown scored by the Bulls in the game and perhaps gives a spark going into halftime. The USF touchdown was the end of a rough sequence of plays by Texas Tech in the final minutes of the first half.

On a 3rd and Goal from the seven-yard line, Nic Shimonek‘s pass was picked off by USF’s Jaymon Thomas, who returned the football 18 yards to give the Bulls a late offensive series starting at their own 18-yard line. The interception was the first turnover of the game and blocked Texas Tech from building on a 10-3 lead late in the first half. USF would have to punt the ball away on the possession, but the defense played well and forced the Red Raiders to be backed up to punting on their own 10-yard line on a 4th and 23.

USF’s failure to convert first downs has led to some short offensive possessions. USF was just four-of-nine on third down conversions and the Bulls were limited to just 107 yards of offense before the late scoring opportunity. Quinton Flowers completed just three of his 13 pass attempts for 31 yards, and he has five rushes for 11 yards before the 25-yard touchdown strike.

Texas Tech took the opening possession of the game to inside the red zone, but as so often has been the case this season, the Red Raiders stalled once getting past the 20-yard line and had to settle for a field goal by Clayton Hatfield. USF answered with a similar drive ending with a field goal by Emilio Nadelman.

The Red Raiders scored their lone touchdown of the half in the first quarter on a Shimonek pass to Keke Coutee from five yards out.

CFT Previews: Your Dec. 23 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 23 bowl menu, which today features a pair of 10-win teams, another that could’ve gotten to double digits were it not for a hurricane and a service academy that’s on the verge of its best season ever wins-wise.

WHO: Texas Tech (6-6) vs. South Florida (9-2)
WHAT: The 12th Birmingham Bowl
WHEN: Noon ET on ESPN
WHERE: Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama
THE LINE: Texas Tech, +3
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: San Diego State (10-2) vs. Army (9-3)
WHAT: The 15th Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas
THE LINE: Army, +7
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Appalachian State (8-4) vs. Toledo (11-2)
WHAT: The 19th Dollar General Bowl
WHEN: 7 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Alabama
THE SKINNY: These two teams are very familiar with each other, at least when it comes to the recent postseason as they met in last year’s Camellia Bowl, with Appalachian State coming away with a three-point win. That game, incidentally, is the only meeting ever between the two schools. … Arguably the biggest surprise in this game is that Toledo head coach Jason Candle is neither coaching his last game nor already off to a bigger program.  In two full seasons, Candle has won 20 games at UT, the best start for a Rockets head coach ever.  This time next year, though, expect Candle to be in charge of his own Power Five program. … Toledo, incidentally, can post its highest win total since its 12-0 1971 season under Jack Murphy. A win would not only match that season, but could also leave the Rockets ranked in the final College Football Playoff Top 25 for the first time ever. … Both teams left the regular season on a high, with the Mountaineers winning three in a row and the Rockets doing the same, with the bonus for the latter being the last of those wins coming in the MAC championship game. … ASU is looking to run its all-time bowl record to 3-0. with the first two wins coming the past two seasons… If you like quality quarterback matchups, this one’s for you.  UT’s Logan Woodside and ASU’s Taylor Lamb are two of only three FBS quarterbacks, the other being Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma, to throw for 25 or more touchdowns and fewer than eight interceptions this season.  Woodside is currently fifth in the country in pass efficiency, while Lamb is 16th. Woodside is also 11th in passing yards (3,758), while Lamb can also beat a defense with his legs as his 539 yards rushing are 10th amongst Group of Five quarterbacks. … Don’t sleep on the Rockets’ running game, though, as Terry Swanson‘s 1,319 yards leads the MAC. … Stat to note: Teams from the Sun Belt Conference have won two straight and four of the last five Dollar General Bowls.
THE LINE: Appalachian State, +7
THE PREDICTION: Toledo 50, Appalachian State 42