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Who gets to look at the backside of Vulcan – in trophy form – for the next 50-odd years. South Florida would like to grab a 10th win while Texas Tech is looking to end the season with a winning record. All jokes aside, the winner gets to take home one of the better bowl trophies this season.
South Florida had their sights set higher than the Birmingham Bowl when the season started, but they fell short of their goal with losses to UCF and Houston.
Now the goal is to repeat as Birmingham Bowl champs. South Florida played South Carolina last year and wound up with a 46-39 victory and quarterback Quinton Flowers won MVP honors. Flowers, who could hold as many as 34 school records when his career is done rushed for 105 yards and was 23-of-32 for 261 more and two touchdowns against the Gamecocks last year. This season he ranks 11th in the country in total offense per game (324.7 yards) and will set a school single-season record for passing yardage if he throws for 312 against the Red Raiders.
The former Texas coach leads the 23rd-ranked Bulls (9-2) into the Birmingham Bowl on Saturday against Texas Tech (6-6), the Longhorns’ Big 12 Conference rival. Strong isn’t banking too much on that familiarity.
“It’s just totally two different teams,” said Strong, who was 2-1 against the Red Raiders with the Longhorns. “You look at last year they had a quarterback (Patrick Mahomes) who was a first-round draft pick. In three years at Texas, we had some really good games and Kliff (Kingsbury) has done a very good job with that team.