Under first-year head coach Skip Holtz, USF (7-5, 3-4 Big East) made it to its 6th straight bowl game and will face Clemson (6-6, 4-4 ACC Atlantic) in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
CollegeFootballPoll.com's Congrove Computer Rankings (CCR Top 120) forecasted in the preseason that USF would finish 7-5 overall and nailed that prediction. The computer's forecast of a 4-3 conference mark missed by just one game. USF suffered painfully narrow losses to Syracuse (13-9), Pittsburgh (17-10) and UConn (19-16), but along the way, picked up a huge bragging rights victory over Miami (Fla.) that essentially cost Randy Shannon his job as Miami's head coach.
Clemson was the preseason forecasted winner of the ACC Atlantic with the expectation of a 9-3 season and a 6-2 conference record. However, the Tigers lost road games to Boston College, North Carolina and Florida State by 6 points or less. It wasn't until they won 30-10 at Wake Forest in the next-to-last game of the season that the Tigers picked up a road win.
Outside the conference, Clemson took national title game contestant Auburn to overtime before ultimately falling 27-24 in the third game of the season.
Big East teams have won the last two Meineke Car Care Bowls with Pitt (2009) and West Virginia (2008) each downing North Carolina.
USF is on a 2-bowl winning streak with victories in the home-grown St. Petersburg Bowl and the now-defunct International Bowl. Clemson broke a 3-bowl losing skid with a 21-13 win over Kentucky at last season's Music City Bowl. The Bulls are 3-2 overall in bowl games. Clemson is 16-16.
This will be the first-ever meeting between these teams. In its relatively short history, USF has faced, and beaten, ACC members Florida State (1-1), Miami (1-2), North Carolina (2-0) and N.C. State (1-1).
The computer is 11-1 in forecasting the winner of Clemson games this season, 7-5 against the spread. It is 8-4 straight up with USF games and 4-7 against the spread. It favors Clemson by 1.74 points in this contest. (Such information is tracked for the sole purpose of recording the computer's accuracy in picking games and ranking teams. It is not intended for gambling purposes).
Clemson has never played in this game. USF lost 14-0 to N.C. State in the 2005 edition which was the Bulls' very first bowl trip.
The game will take place at Bank Of America Stadium in Charlotte and will be broadcast live on ESPN on Friday, December 31 beginning at 12:00 noon ET.