UConn plays in the St. Petersburg Bowl on Dec. 26. The bowl, even with its brief history, has more tradition than the inaugural Cure Bowl in Orlando or the second-year Miami Beach and Boca Raton Bowls. An AAC team accepted bids to all three of those games. The St. Pete Bowl is also one of two AAC bowls, along with the Birmingham Bowl, that previously had Big East tie-ins.
t UConn fans will recognize the St. Pete Bowl's venue, Tropicana Field, where the UConn men's basketball team won its first national title, a 77-74 win over Duke in 1999. Tropicana Field's primary tenant, and only full-time tenant, is Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Rays. The field opened as the Florida Suncoast Dome in 1990 and was renamed the Thunderdome when it housed the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning from 1993 to 1996. It has hosted arena and minor league football in the past, but achieved its intended purpose when the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays began play in 1998.
t The Tampa Bay area is no stranger to the college football postseason. The Cigar Bowl was held during the 1940s and 1950s in Tampa. Tampa is now home to the Outback Bowl, an annual showdown between a Big Ten and SEC school on New Year's Day at Raymond James Stadium, home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and UConn's conference foe, South Florida. The Outback Bowl, previously called the Hall of Fame Bowl, moved from Birmingham to the old Tampa Stadium in 1986.
t In 2008, the St. Petersburg Bowl was born, bringing a bowl game across Tampa Bay. It was known as the magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl for the inaugural game. The next year, Beef O'Brady's became a sponsor and from 2010-13 the game was known as the Beef O' Brady's Bowl. Last season, BitPay was the title sponsor of the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl. There is no sponsor this year. Teams from the Big East/American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, Sun Belt, MAC and ACC have previously played in the St. Pete Bowl.
South Florida 41, Memphis 14: USF's Matt Grothe threw three touchdown passes and rushed for 83 yards to lead coach Jim Leavitt and the Bulls' in their own backyard.
Rutgers 45, Central Florida 24: Mohamed Sanu's three touchdowns earned him most outstanding player honors Tim Brown caught a 65-yard touchdown pass and Greg Schiano's Scarlet Knights ended their season with a win.
Louisville 31, Southern Miss 28: Justin Burke threw two touchdown passes and Bilal Powell ran for a score as the Cardinals finished above .500 in coach Charlie Strong's first season. Austin Davis threw two touchdown passes for Southern Miss.
Central Florida 38, Ball State 17: Blake Bortles, who threw for 272 yards and three scores while rushing for 80 yards and a touchdown, gave the AAC a preview of the year to come. Running backs Storm Johnson and Latavius Murray helped UCF's rushing attacked as the local team got the win and kept David Letterman's alma mater winless in bowl games.
East Carolina 37, Ohio 20: Vintavious Cooper caught two touchdown passes, one from Shane Carden, and Ruffin McNeil's Pirates finished with a 10-win season, its last before joining the American.
North Carolina State 34, Central Florida 27: Justin Holman's three touchdown passes weren't enough for George O'Leary and the Knights as the Wolfpack, led by quarterback Jacoby Brissett (262 passing yards, one score) and current Yale wide receiver Bo Hines (3 receptions, 79 yards), clipped UCF.