Date: Dec. 21, 2015
Game Time: 1:30 p.m. (CDT)
Location: Marlins Park, Miami, Fla.
Play by Play: Dave Lamont
Analyst: Desmond Howard
Sideline: Quint Kessenich
Near perfect weather, with a slight chance of a stray rain shower. Temperature at kickoff is expected to be in the low 80s and should hold steady throughout. It will be breezy, with winds ranging between 10-20 mph.
About the Hilltoppers and Bulls:
- WKU has won its last five games, including a 45-28 win over Southern Miss in the Conference USA Championship. The Hilltoppers are 11-2 overall and finished undefeated in league play.
- South Florida enters the game at 8-4 overall and on a four game win streak, outscoring opponents 44-18 during that stretch. The Bulls finished 6-2 in American Athletic Conference play.
- USF, winners of 7 of last 8, equals best 8-game stretch in progam history (2001 & 2002), looks for best-ever 9-game run.
- USF is bowl eligible for first time since 2010. This is the program's 7th bowl appearance in program history.
- WKU is one win shy of tying the school record for wins in a season. The 2002 National Championship team went 12-3 while the 1973 National Runners-Up went 12-1.
- The Hilltoppers are making the program's third bowl appearance, second straight, since moving to the FBS level in 2009. WKU defeated Central Michigan in the 2014 Popeyes Bahamas Bowl. WKU has been bowl eligible for five consecutive seasons.
- The Hilltoppers need just three points to establish a new school scoring record for the second year in a row. Last year, the Hilltoppers tallied 577 points through 13 games.
- The USF ground attack ranks 11th in FBS with 242.9 yards per game. The Bulls rushed for a record 2,915 yards shattering old mark by nearly 500 yards.
- WKU quarterback Brandon Doughty, the only player in C-USA history to earn MVP honors in back-to-back seasons, leads the FBS in completion percentage (71.8), TDs (45) and points responsible for (286).
- USF quarterback Quinton Flowers set new USF records for passing (21) & total (31) touchdowns, QB rushing yards with 883.
- USF offense, averaging 428.7 ypg, needs just 239 yards to set a new program record, eclipsing 5,383 total yards.
- WKU receiver Taywan Taylor is 2nd in FBS in receiving TDs (17) and tied for fourth in yards (1,363).
- WKU ranks No. 10 in total offense nationally, USF checks in at No. 42. In total defense, the Hilltoppers are No. 60, with the Bulls at No. 37.
WKU will take on a South Florida team led by former WKU player, assistant coach and head coach Willie Taggart. Taggart was 16-20 in his three seasons as WKU’s head coach, served as an assistant coach from 1999-06 and was a four-year letterwinner at quarterback from 1995-98. Taggart’s jersey number (1) is one of four jerseys retired by the program.
3 Things for USF Win:
1. Free Flowers. Quinton Flowers needs to be effective through the air and on the ground. WKU has struggled to slow running QB's and the Bulls need to take advantage.
2. Limit Rush. WKU has a great ground game in Anthony Wales and D'Andre Ferby. If the Tops are able to gain chunks on the ground, that's trouble for USF.
3. Big Play. The defense needs to come up with a big play or two to limit the times that the WKU offense finds the end zone.
3 Things for WKU Win:
1. Score Early. One of the WKU's best defensive strategies has been to score first and often to apply added pressure to the opponent. The Tops will need to jump on the Bulls early.
2. Slow Flowers. The USF QB is going to get his share of yardage on the ground, but the WKU defense needs to make him work for it and limit his big runs.
3. Run. All eyes will be on Brandon Doughty, so it's another opportunity to prove just how good the Hilltopper rushing game is.