It's the holiday season, but more importantly it's college football bowl season. The Florida International University Panthers will face the Temple University Owls in the Bad Boy Mowers 2017 Gasparilla Bowl on Thursday, December 21st at 8 p.m. inside the friendly confines of Tropicana Field. The game will be televised on ESPN.
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This is the first game under the Gasparilla Bowl banner, and tenth overall. USF Football won the inaugural St. Petersburg Bowl 41-14 over Memphis in 2008.
FIU (8-4) plays in Conference USA and is led by former University of Miami head coach Butch Davis. This year the team from Miami equaled the 2011 Panthers for the most wins in a season in program history. Those Panthers played in the St. Petersburg bowl game, then named the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, and lost to Marshall.
Temple is based in Philadelphia and plays in the American Athletic Conference. First-year head coach Geoff Collins guided the Owls to a 6-6 record and wins in three of their last four games, including a 43-22 victory over Tulsa to become bowl eligible in their final regular-season game. This is Temple’s first appearance in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.
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Eleven Temple players from Florida will make a homecoming of sorts, including wide receiver Ventell Bryant, a Tampa native. Florida International is loaded with Florida talent and have eight players from the Tampa Bay area, including starting quarterback Alex McGough from Gaither High School. McGough has thrown for 2,791 yards and 17 touchdowns, and added five rushing touchdowns. Against UMass on December 2nd, McGough threw for 295 yards, ran for 108, and accounted for four touchdowns.
Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront will host Temple during their Gasparilla Bowl stay. The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club will host Florida International while they visit for the St. Pete bowl. The teams will arrive in the area on Sunday, December 17th to participate in festivities like the Battle At The Beach at Treasure Island Beach, which pits both teams and their bands against each other in competitions.
Even if you aren’t an alum or fan of either Temple University or Florida International University, the Bad Boy Mowers 2017 Gasparilla Bowl at Tropicana Field on December 21st still promises to be a lot of fun. It’s college football in St. Petersburg — what more do you need?
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