USF conducted its final practice of the season Thursday in preparation for the International Bowl. The team's 16 seniors were honored prior to facing Miami at home last month in the final home game of the season.
But the reality that their final game is finally here is starting to hit home.
"This is bigger for me," said USF coach Jim Leavitt, who called this year's senior class "extraordinary" for keeping the team competitive when senior team leader and starting QB Matt Grothe went down with a season-ending injury in the third game.
Senior S Nate Allen plans to start working out for the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine as soon as the Bulls return to Tampa. But not before taking care of some final business for the Bulls.
"We've been part of five bowl games in five years," Allen said. "I guess you could say we set the standard for the younger guys and what they need to accomplish in the years coming up. We've come a long ways with this senior class."
New Year's plans
Leavitt opted to allow the players to go out on New Year's Eve and enjoy the festivities that North America's fifth-largest city had to offer Thursday night.
The Bulls had a 1 a.m. curfew and many planned to spend the evening downtown at Toronto's annual New Year's Eve celebration.
"We're all excited about New Year's Eve in Toronto," Leavitt said.
Leavitt wasn't sure of his plans, but he said he most likely would hang out in the team hotel's hospitality room with his assistants and their families.
The Bulls visited the Hockey Hall of Fame after Thursday's practice. ... USF and Northern Illinois will gather at noon today for the International Bowl Kickoff Luncheon; the schools' bands will face off in the Battle of the Bands at the Rogers Centre on 5:30 as pregame festivities wrap up. ... This is the third meeting, with Northern Illinois winning 20-17 at home in 2001, and USF answering with a 37-6 home victory in 2002.