By Colin Dunlap | Noon, Friday
TAMPA. Fla. -- Eight hours until game time ...
There's been a lot of talk about this South Florida team in a spiral. A lot of talk about the Bulls losing a decent sized chunk of their bite over the past couple of weeks with losses at home against Cincinnati and then on the road, at Heinz Field, against Pitt on Saturday.
Got to be honest here, I am with Bill Stewart on this one -- I still think this USF team can play with anyone in the conference.
If I were a WVU fan, this game would scare the bejeezus out of me. It is just one of those games where it is lining up that the West Virginia fan base seems to think the Mountaineers are going to drift out on the field tonight, play a decent game and come away with a win.
Just my personal opinion -- WVU will win this game. But, the Mountaineers will also have a tougher time than many anticipate. I'd say Stewart's crew wins this game something in the area of 28-21 or 27-19 or something of the sort.
Place: Raymond James Stadium
Time: 8 p.m.
Forecast for kickoff: 80 degrees, chance of rain 30 percent
Announcers: Joe Tessitore - play-by-play; Rod Gilmore - analyst
UPDATE 1 p.m.: Woke up early, headed to the beach and just got back. made the 20 minute or so drive from my hotel over the Clearwater Beach. It was awesome. Around 9:30 a.m., it was about 82 degrees and perfect. I hung out there for awhile, did absolutely nothing for a few hours sitting on the beach, had a fantastic (but cheap) lunch and just got back to the room.
This is what welcomed me...ahhhhh, splendid morning:
Where I posted up...on the chair on the right:
All kinds of people had fancy beach bags. I forgot to bring one, so I went ghetto on them:
And after kicking around on the beach for a few hours, I went to this place called Frenchy's. Absolutely tremendous. Had the grouper sammich (grilled. I'm watching my figure):
2:58 p.m.: A couple quick things from the hotel. Just sat out front on one of the chairs for about half an hour and spoke to the father of offensive tackle Don Barclay. He made it down this morning from Pittsburgh. He said the shuttle driver made mention that two groups of fans travel to Tampa like no others: WVU fans and Steelers fans. To be honest, a shuttle driver would know.
Secondly, I've been getting quite a few emails regarding how to comment on this blog. Signing up is simple and can be done here: http://community.post-gazette.com/CreateUser.aspx
3:22 p.m.: By the way, if anyone forgets what happened last time WVU came down here (and it would probably be impossible to forget), I thought it was the right time to jog the memory. Indeed, this game will serve as some motivation for those West Virginia players still on the roster when the run out on the field in less than 5 hours: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5fLxlh5CCM
5:15 p.m.: Made it into the press box and I sometimes always notice stupid little things. Well, here is one.
When you come to a stadium, there is normally a little placard at your workspace. It says, "Welcome Colin Dunlap, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette" or something along those lines. It is a nice touch. There is one here.
There is also some other things written on the card. It says George Selvie, National Defensive Player of the Year Candidate
OK, I can live with that.
But, it also says, Matt Grothe, Heisman Candidate
Just a hunch here. Um, Matt Grothe probably isn't going to win the Heisman -- I mean, generally you have to play more than three games to earn enough votes.
I know, I know, I know, these placards were more than likely printed before the season, but still ....
6:18 p.m: The Mountaineers arrived a little while ago. I saw Scott Kozlowski out on the field kicking a football around. Here is a shot of the field from my seat...it is absolutely beautiful down here. A little hot, but postcard-like otherwise.
7:01 p.m.: A few revelations:
1. As predicted, West Virginia is wearing blue pants and white tops.
2. Bill Stewart is wearing a sweater vest! He has on a short-sleeved, golf shirt underneath, but he does, indeed, have the sweater vest on. He's got the moxie going, even in this heat.
7:37 p.m.: Just went for a walk around the stadium. Got to say, this is one of my favorite NFL venues. Wide, wide concourses here are Raymond James' best feature. By the way, being that this is a late start, just a warning, there won't be a ton of blog posts from me after kickoff.
8 p.m.: The press box PA guy just said 85 degrees...feels like 90.
And it is October -- wow.
About to kickoff....here we go. USF will kick to WVU.
8:23 p.m: As we roll into the second half of the first quarter tied at 7-7, I got a photo from the Pittsburgh gamewatch: