BYU at USF: a Tampa Travel Guide

BYU has ironically never won a football game in the Sunshine State but there is a first time for everything. Will you be there to witness history? If you’re watching from the couch you will need the CBS Sports Channel which is found in some cable packages as well as streaming options like YouTube TV and Hulu Live. The game kicks off at 1:30 PM Mountain Standard time.

How did BYU become 0-7 in Florida? That is the most losses without a win of any state for the Cougars. Their next worst state is Kansas where they are 0-5. Sure there are some good teams in Florida but USF isn’t one of them. However, BYU hasn’t necessarily been the most consistent team this year either and they do start a new quarterback under center this week. There are plenty of unknowns.

While down in Tampa there are plenty of things for Cougar fans to do as they get ready for the big game. Here is a guide to traveling to USF country successfully:

1. Travel: If you live in Utah, please don’t drive to Florida unless you planned on starting a cross country road trip yesterday. It is about 2,400 miles away depending on where in Utah you live. That’s 34 hours of non-stop driving. Since it is an earlier kickoff our time, you might not make it considering that you’ll have to take some sleep stops.

If you’ve prepared beforehand you likely booked a flight or perhaps you are a Cougar fan that lives in the South and you are in driving distance. Tampa does have an international airport so once you’re there it should be easy to get to the hotel and have fun before the game.

2. Where to stay: I always recommend checking AirBNB but you want to be careful to read the reviews. Florida is known to have pests so you may find some unwelcome creepy crawly things if you’re not careful in your decision.

If you don’t want to even risk that then I would look at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, the Hilton Tampa Downtown or the Tampa Marriott Water Street. All are within five miles from Raymond James Stadium where the USF Bulls play home games.

3. What to wear: Unless you’re a USF fan don’t wear green! Wear Royal Blue and support the Cougars.

4. What to eat: The south always has some good food and by good I don’t mean good for you. If your diet allows deep fried foods I would go to anything that has the words “Southern Soul food” in it! There are plenty of mom and pop restaurants like this and you can find plenty that average at least a 4 star rating. Some examples are Mama’s Southern Soul Food Restaurant, Auntie’s Soul Food and More, and Al’s Finger Licking Good Soul Food.

5. What other games to attend in Tampa: There are plenty of professional and college teams to watch in this part of Florida. The Buccaneers, an NFL team that also plays home games at Raymond James Stadium, will be playing in London early Sunday morning so you may have to book a different flight if you want to see that team.

The Tampa Bay Rays baseball team has a “win or go home” playoff game against the Astros today that will decide who faces the New York Yankees in the ALCS. The first game in Tampa wouldn’t be until some time next week so if they can get past Houston you may want to extend your vacation a little bit. Houston is highly favored but so were the Dodgers. Don’t count out this sneaky Wild Card Team.

The Tampa Bay Lightning NHL team is on a road trip in Canada right now for three games before they end in Boston. Their next home game is a week from Saturday when they host the Colorado Avalanche so again, you’ll have to extend your vacation if you want to see a professional sports team.

The one ticket to see Friday night might be when the USF men’s soccer team hosts SMU. That can give you an opportunity to interact with USF fans and get all your cheering out for them before you cheer against them on Saturday.

Gameday: Get an early breakfast and head to the stadium early for a chance to tailgate with other Cougars. As seen in other road games, Cougar fans travel well so there will be plenty of tailgate options. The Tampa Chapter BYU Alumni have put together a great Cougar Town Tailgate which goes from 11 AM – 2 PM EST at the Water Works Park which is just under 5 miles away from the stadium. You should be able to stay the whole time but if you want to be at the stadium well before kickoff you may want to arrive early so you can leave a little early!

Make sure to cheer loud and stay the whole time if possible! You’re on vacation and BYU fans are known for being great especially at road games so don’t worry about traffic or seeing anything else afterwards. You came to support the Cougars!

Final Score Prediction: BYU 30 USF 28

Unlike I projected before the season, this is a game BYU should win. USF has had some good seasons but this isn’t one. If this were UCF in Orlando I may have a hard time picking BYU but I’m picking the Cougars to get it done. Every game is a must win but this is especially important for Kalani Sitake and his team if he wants to become bowl eligible and get a contract extension. 3-3 looks a lot better than 2-4 with teams like Boise and Utah State looming. BYU does have another bye week after Boise so hopefully they will be prepared for some very tough games. November gets a lot easier after Utah State with teams like Idaho State, Liberty and UMass but aside from those teams, Saturday is likely their easiest remaining game on the schedule so the Cougars need to take care of business.

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