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Gameday- USF’s Flowers leads Bulls one more time in Birmingham Bowl

Olivia Stacey

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Photo by Icon Sportswire

The University of South Florida will meet Texas Tech in the 2017 Birmingham Bowl on Saturday, at historic Legion Field.

The Birmingham Bowl typically pits an American Athletic Conference team against an SEC opponent. However, Texas Tech will make its first appearance in the bowl game this year — making it the first time in the bowl’s history that a Big 12 team is competing.

Meanwhile, USF is making its third appearance in the Birmingham Bowl and is 2-0 all-time. The Bulls beat East Carolina 24-7 in the inaugural game, which was then the PapaJohns.com Bowl, in 2006, and defeated South Carolina 46-39 in overtime last year.

Saturday will be a battle between two high-powered offenses, with the Bulls ranking ninth nationally in yards per game (508.6) and the Red Raiders coming in at 17th (468.4).

USF first year coach Charlie Strong faces a very familiar foe in Texas Tech— Strong was the Texas head coach from 2014-16, where he went 2-1 against the Red Raiders. Strong had just been hired by the Bulls last December, when they defeated the Gamecocks to win this game.

The Bulls have a top-15 scoring offense and are led by quarterback Quinton Flowers, who accounted for 605 yards and five touchdowns last month against UCF. He’s the all time leading rusher at USF and has also accounted for over 100 total touchdowns in his last three seasons.

Flowers has passed for 21 touchdowns and rushed for 10 this season. Last year, Flowers was named the Birmingham Bowl MVP — hitting 72% of his throws for 261 yards and two scores. He also ran for 105 yards and notched three rushing touchdowns in the win. It’s the final time he will suit up for the green and gold.

Meanwhile, USF will have to contend with coach (and former Red Raider starting QB) Kliff Kingsbury and his up tempo 4 and at times 5 wide offense. QB Nic Shimonek will play his final game for Texas Tech. He threw for over 3,400 yards and 30 TDs this season.

A win by the Bulls would be their 10th and mark the first time in the 22 years of Bulls football that they would have won 10 games in back to back years.

The Birmingham Bowl will kick off at 12 p.m. ET.

Olivia is a multi-faceted sports reporter based in Tampa Bay where she has covered events from the College Football National Championship to the Stanley Cup Final. A native Floridian, she grew up rooting for Tampa’s sports teams, and graduated from East Lake High in Tarpon Springs. Olivia continued her education at the University of Florida where she received her broadcast journalism degree.

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