EL PASO, Texas (AP) -South Florida accepted a bid to the Sun Bowl on Tuesday, the Bulls' third consecutive postseason appearance though not quite what they had in mind when in October they were No. 2 in the country.
No. 25 USF (9-3, 4-3 Big East) lost three straight Big East games after reaching No. 2, playing itself out of the conference championship race. The Bulls rebounded with three consecutive decisive victories to finish the season.
``For them to invite the University of South Florida is an absolute honor,'' coach Jim Leavitt said Tuesday. ``Our guys battled their tails to put themselves in a position to receive this invitation. I wish so much that we could again let them know how much we appreciate it, and we will, when we get out there.''
The Bulls will be the first Big East team to play in the Sun Bowl, sponsored by Brut. USF will play the third-place team from the Pac-10 on Dec. 31.
USF is the only team to beat No. 2 West Virginia, which can clinch a spot in the national championship game with a victory against Pittsburgh on Saturday.
``We played our tail off in those (losses) ... and things happen for different reasons, some in our control and some outside our control,'' said Leavitt, the program's only coach in 11 seasons. ``I always felt like we could win our next game. I always felt like we could get it done because of the guys and how hard they work and their focus and how much it means to them.''
USF beat East Carolina 24-7 in the Papajohns.com Bowl last year.

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