By TOM ZEBOLD, USF Senior Writer

TAMPA – A successful business trip to Philadelphia is just what the Bulls need entering a crucial part of the season.

USF will face off against Temple for the first time at noon on Saturday in a game of huge proportions for the program. The Bulls are looking to snap a three-game losing streak in what is the start of a four-game stretch against conference opponents and getting back on even ground in the Big East is vital.

“I think it’s a really big game, and not only that, it’s going into an open date. You’re going to have the taste of this one in your mouth for two weeks,” head coach Skip Holtz said Tuesday. “I think it’s huge from a confidence standpoint going into an open date, continuing to build the program and a chance for you to take some strides forward right now.”

Saturday’s game also is a valuable one for a Temple program that’s looking for some redemption. The Owls are back in Big East play for the first time since 2004, when the conference severed ties with the program because of its lack of success. Temple went 14-80 in the conference from 1991 to 2004 and a 1-0 start in the new era would be a great feeling for head coach Steve Addazio’s squad.

“A number of years ago, they were dismissed for the reasoning of not being competitive. I’m sure that has been a thorn in their side,” Holtz said. “They are really excited and that should be a driving force motivating this football team coming back.”

‘The Little Engines That Could’

Receivers Derrick Hopkins (5-foot-5, 160 pounds) and Terrence Mitchell (5-10, 164) aren’t big guys by any means, but their play has been this year.

The speedy duo combined to total seven catches for 88 yards last week against FSU and the production has been there all season. Mitchell ranks second on the team with 20 catches for 318 yards and Hopkins is third with 10 receptions for 164 yards. Both are averaging more than 15 yards per catch and have a touchdown grab apiece.

“Everybody says they aren’t big enough. They’re like the little engines that could,” Holtz said. “They show up every single day, work extremely hard and they’re doing a nice job.”

Record-Breaking Day at Ray Jay

The USF-FSU battle drew the largest non-Super Bowl crowd for a game in the history of Raymond James Stadium. The attendance figure of 69,383 topped USF’s previous home game record set in 2007 against West Virginia by 2,371 people.

“I thought there was a very supportive Bulls crowd. I think this alumni group and this fan base really showed incredible support,” Holtz said.

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