2017 Birmingham Bowl: USF Bulls (9-2) vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (6-6)

South Florida Bulls (9-2, 6-2) vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (6-6, 3-6)

Location: Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama

Time: 12:00 PM ET/11:00 CT Saturday, December 23, 2017

TV: ESPN/WatchESPN

Line: USF -2.5, O/U 67

Last year’s result: USF win 46-39 over South Carolina

*Winner gets to take home the shiny metal ass pictured above. The Vulcan is a tribute to Birmingham’s steel industry. 

Let me take you in the time machine. To the year 1997.

That’s the year the University of South Florida started their football program. 20 years ago. To look back and see how far USF has come in 20 years, you can’t help but be in awe.

Me and USF football go way back, back to their first game ever, an 80-3 romp of Kentucky Wesleyan in the old Big Sombrero, before Raymond James was built. I spent my formative years living across the bay from Tampa in Bradenton, Florida. I remember watching that game as a precocious 11-year-old at my best friend John’s house. It was a brief three-hour respite from playing Super Mario 64 and Goldeneye for hours on end. (That was much of 1997)

USF entered the college football world with a bang, and has steadily climbed up college football’s conference ladder over the past two decades. Now you see their name brought up in Big XII expansion rumors. They served as a model for other metropolitan-based universities (FIU, FAU, Georgia State, Charlotte) everywhere thinking about starting football programs.

USF football is the definition of new money, and they’re not even old enough to order themselves a drink. A trip to the Birmingham Bowl probably falls short of most Bulls fans expectations; but hey, look at it this way, this is USF’s chance to impress the Big XII Expansion Politburo. Wax Texas Tech here and it certainly couldn’t hurt the cause.


Let’s dive into the matchup.

Texas Tech

The Red Raiders make it back to a bowl after a one year hiatus. They are looking for their first bowl victory since 2013. Kliff Kingsbury was on the hot seat for much of the season, and it had nothing to do with his attractiveness.

Image result for kliff kingsbury

This one is for the ladies. Those eyes will follow you around the room like the Mona Lisa.

The former Texas Tech QB Kingsbury has a 30-32 record in five seasons at the helm. His boyish good looks and his legend status in Lubbock from his playing days will only go so far. The Mike Leach disciple struggles to recapture Mike Leach results. Tech needed a victory over Texas the last week to secure bowl eligibility; it probably saved his job. The proverbial Texas Stay of Execution.

Okay…cool narrative you got there but what about actual football?

Dis game is gonna be fun. Quinton Flowers, last year’s Birmingham Bowl MVP, vs. Nic Shimonek and Texas Tech’s Spread Offense. Oh, points will be scored Ray…..points will most definitely be scored.

This is a good enough game to get you off the couch and into Legion Field, like I am (press credentials). Look at these numbers:

Total Offense:

USF: 22nd, 5,621 TY
TT: 23rd 5,595 TY

Yards per game:

USF: 9th, 509 YPG
TT: 17th, 468 YPG

Points per game:

USF: 15th, 38.3 PPG
TT: 26th, 34.3 PPG

It’s also a contrast in styles. Texas Tech is 12th in the country in passing yards, while USF is 19th in rushing yards.

In a game where you have Florida and Texas-based athletes flying around the field in what’s expected to be a barnburner, the difference might just come down to who has a better coach? Which team plays defense? The answer to both of those questions is USF. Charlie Strong is 2-1 lifetime vs. Kingsbury. South Florida has a clear advantage on the sidelines.

Defensive PPG: USF 36th vs. Texas Tech 94th

Key Players

South Florida
QB Quinton Flowers threw for 2,600 yards and 21 TDs, ran for 972 yards and 10 TDs, last year’s Birmingham Bowl MVP after 46-39 OT win over South Carolina.
RB D’Ernest Johnson: 177 carries, 745 yards, 7 TDs
RB Darius Tice: 162 carries, 878 yards, 11 TDs
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling: 50 Rec, 746 yards, 5 TDs
WR Tyree McCants: 30 Rec, 598 yards, 5 TDs
WR Darnell Salomon: 28 Rec, 465 yards, 4 TDs
LB Auggie Sanchez: 77 tackles, 9.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, 2 INTs
LB Greg Reaves: 48 tackles, 13.5 TFLs, 4.0 sacks
DT Bruce Hector: 35 tackles, 13.0 TFLs, 7.0 sacks
DE Mike Love: 25 tackles, 10.5 TFLs, 5.0 sacks

Texas Tech
Senior QB Nic Shimonek threw for 3,547 yards good for 15th in the country, 30 TDs (11th), 68.3% completion (4th), 156.0 QB Rating (13th).
RB Justin Stockton: 114 carries, 694 yards, 25 rec, 203 yards, 5 TDs
RB Tre King: 121 carries, 588 yards, 4 TDs
WR Keke Coutee: 86 Rec, 1,255 yards, 9 TDs
WR Dylan Cantrell: 67 recs, 790 yards, 7 TDs
WR Cameron Batson 55 recs, 464 yards 5 TDs
LB Dakota Allen 92 tackles, 6.0 TFLs, 2 INTs
LB Jordyn Brooks 85 tackles, 1 INT
DB Jah’Shawn Johnson 83 tackles, 3.0 TFLs

Prediction: USF 48, Texas Tech 31

The Bulls take home the Vulcan Bare-Ass Trophy

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