Like the Eagle Bank Bowl, The St. Petersburg Bowl is new to the schedule in the 2008 bowl season.
The last time a championship game was held on Tropicana Field the team from Florida was victorious. That was Game 7 of the World Series and the Rays advanced to the World Series.
This is the first time any game has been held at Tropicana Field since Game 7 and the South Florida Bulls hopes the team from Florida wins once again.
The Magic Jack St. Petersburg Bowl features the South Florida Bulls (7-5) and the Memphis Tigers (6-6). The Bulls entered 2008 ranked 19th in the AP Poll and had high expectations for the season.
South Florida was led by quarterback Matt Grothe, who had been successful the last two seasons but had a problem. He had thrown 28 interceptions in his first two seasons as the starter.
In 2008 that problem didn't go away. He ended up throwing 14 interceptions, and South Florida suffered because of it.
The Bulls started off winning their first five games, including an overtime win over then No. 13 Kansas. The Bulls rose as far as 10th in the AP Poll.
But after their 41-10 win over North Carolina State to go 5-0, the Bulls lost four out of their next five including a 49-16 annihilation at the hands of Rutgers.
In the end, after the NC State game, they ended the season losing five out of their last seven games, including a 13-7 loss to West Virginia.
As for the Memphis Tigers, they started the season by losing to Ole Miss, Rice, and Marshall. People in Memphis were second-guessing the entire team and coaching staff.
In those first three games, Quarterback Arkelon Hall threw three TDs and three interceptions, but he passed for a whopping 896 yards in those games, including a 76.3 completion percentage against Rice in a 42-35 loss.
The Tigers ended up winning six of their last nine games and ended the year with a lot of momentum.
The St. Petersburg Bowl features two players on each offense who will either carry their team to a victory or will restrict them from getting a win.
First, South Florida has Grothe, the leading passer and rusher for the Bulls this year. Although he has regressed in his performance this year, he is still a dangerous threat.
The Memphis Tigers have their own offensive threat too. Curtis Steele has rushed for 1,175 yards and seven touchdowns in his first year as a starter and is developing into a star at Memphis.
Now, time for my prediction. If Steele runs wild against the South Florida defense, the Tigers can play with the once-ranked Bulls, but as long as Jordan Selve is still making plays on defense for the Bulls, the Tigers are going to lose their second straight bowl game.
Final Prediction: The Bulls will make Memphis throw the ball by stacking the box against Curtis Steele. The Bulls defense and Matt Grothe make enough plays to run away with it.
South Florida 31, Memphis 16
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