By GREG AUMAN, Times Staff Writer
Published December 5, 2005
TAMPA - USF and its Meineke Car Care Bowl opponent, North Carolina State, have much in common, including 6-5 records, but they enter their Dec.31 meeting in Charlotte from different directions. The Bulls are coming off two disappointing losses, and the Wolfpack has won four of five.
"We are thrilled to be able to play a postseason bowl in our home state," N.C. State coach Chuck Amato said Sunday. "One of the big reasons that we are headed to a bowl is because of our unbelievable fans, and to be able to play in a place that is accessible to them is icing on the cake."
Raleigh is 170 miles from Charlotte, and the Wolfpack drew more than 50,000 for six of its seven home games. But USF has the novelty and excitement of playing in its first bowl, something not lost on coach Jim Leavitt .
"Five years of Division I-A football, and to go to a bowl of this stature?" Leavitt said. "That isn't going to happen again, ever. ... I'm just happy we're able to play in a bowl game."
Both teams have been carried by defense, as N.C. State ranks 14th nationally in total defense and 22nd in scoring defense and USF 20th in total and 14th in scoring. Amato and USF co-defensive coordinator Wally Burnham worked together as defensive assistants at Florida State from 1986-93.
All but three of the Bulls who played this season hail from Florida, and N.C. State's roster includes 30 Floridians, seven from Hillsborough and Pinellas.
RECRUITING: USF picked up two more oral commitments as receiver Jamal Harvey and defensive back Dylan Douglas , teammates at Jacksonville's Jackson High, said they'll play for the Bulls, according to recruiting site usfnation.com.