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Tampa's top 10 games
By GREG AUMAN, Times Staff Writer
Published September 28, 2007
TAMPA - To say tonight's USF-West Virginia game is the biggest college football game ever played in Tampa is no easy claim, as the sport has been played here long before USF was founded. As early as 1912, the University of Florida played a game in Tampa against the Tampa Athletic Club, winning 44-0. For much of its early history, Tampa was a home away from home for the Gators, who have played 38 regular-season games in Tampa, though none since 1989 against Mississippi State.
The University of Tampa had a successful football program from 1933 to 1974, including the first game at Tampa Stadium in 1967, a 38-0 loss to No. 3 Tennessee. The Spartans' final game was an 11-10 loss to Southern Miss in November 1974.
Tampa has hosted postseason games since 1946, when the "Cigar Bowl" opened its nine-year existence.
Delaware beat Rollins 21-7 in that game, with 7,500 fans in attendance, and the otherwise unremarkable bowl has the honor of being Florida State's first bowl appearance, a 19-6 win against Wofford in 1950.
The University of South Florida played its first football game in 1997, and 10years later, the Bulls are nationally ranked and playing host to No. 5 West Virginia tonight.
Here are 10 of the biggest college football games ever played in Tampa.
1912 Florida 44, Tampa Athletic Club 0
On the way to a game in Havana, Cuba, Florida stopped to beat Tampa Athletic Club. Tampa wouldn't always be kind to the Gators, who between 1916 and 1920 would lose games in Tampa to Tennessee, Georgia and Tulane by a combined score of 54-0.
1969 Florida 18, Tulane 17
Florida's original "Super Sophs" played at Tampa Stadium against Tulane. Former Robinson High quarterbackJohn Reaves connects with receiver Carlos Alvarez for the winning two-point conversion with 2:14 to play.
1974 Southern Miss 11, Tampa 10
The University of Tampa had many big games, including opening Tampa Stadium against Tennessee in 1967, but we chose the Spartans' final home game, as star quarterback Freddie Solomon and UT lost. The Spartans haven't played football since.
1978 FAMU 27, Bethune-Cookman 17
Florida A&M beat Bethune-Cookman as Tampa became the annual home of the Florida Classic rivalry game between the two schools. Tampa had played host to FAMU's "Orange Blossom Classic" from 1944-46 and would again in 1983 and 1984. The rivalry game moved to Orlando after the 1996 season.
1984 Miami 32, Florida 20
In perhaps the most memorable Florida game played in Tampa (and ESPN's first live college telecast), the Gators led defending national champion Miami 20-18 with less than a minute to play in Jimmy Johnson's second game as Hurricanes coach. Quarterback Bernie Kosar led Miami to a late touchdown, then a defensive score sealed a win for the Hurricanes, who would be ranked No. 1 the next day.
1990 Auburn 31, Ohio State 14
The bowl record for highest attendance in Tampa came here, when 68,085 fans saw No. 9 Auburn beat No. 21 Ohio State in the Hall of Fame Bowl at Tampa Stadium. Tigers quarterback Reggie Slack threw for three scores and ran for another.
1997 USF 80, Kentucky Wesleyan 3
USF's first game drew a crowd of 49,212, a home attendance record that has stood for a decade and will fall to tonight's sellout. Other memorable opponents during the Bulls' first home schedule included Drake, Morehead State and Davidson.
2005 USF 45, Louisville 14
USF makes a huge statement in its Big East debut, stunning No. 9 Louisville as three-touchdown underdogs with a victory that remains the Bulls' most lopsided win against a Division I-A team. USF would go on to play in its first bowl game that season, losing to N.C. State inCharlotte, N.C.
2005 Georgia 24, Wisconsin 21
No. 7 Georgia beats No. 15 Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl, marking the highest ranked opponents in the bowl's history. Wisconsin pulls within a field goal with four minutes to play, but Georgia runs out the clock, taking a knee at the Wisconsin 5-yard line as time expires.