CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Clemson won't have to travel far to play in the postseason this year, while South Florida coach Skip Holtz gets to return to North Carolina.
The Meineke Bowl selected the Tigers (6-6) and Bulls (7-5) to play in the Dec. 31 game at Bank of America Stadium.
Despite three losses in its final five games, including a 29-7 defeat to South Carolina to close the regular season, bowl officials chose Clemson over Maryland (8-4) as the Atlantic Coast Conference representative.
The Tigers' strong fan base and its location 2½ hours from Charlotte made them an attractive choice.
"It's a great situation for our fans," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "One of the main reasons we were selected for this bowl is because of our great fan support and the passion of our fans."
The Bulls will play in this bowl for the second time, getting the bid a day after falling to Big East champion Connecticut 19-16. They were picked over Pittsburgh, which played in the game last year, setting up Holtz's return to the state after he guided East Carolina for five seasons.
"This group has worked extremely hard throughout the year, so a trip to Charlotte is the perfect way to finish off the season," Holtz said.
In his first season at South Florida, Holtz's team came on strong late in the season after a slow start, winning four of its last six games. A victory will give South Florida at least eight wins for the fifth straight year.
"Coach Holtz has done a magnificent job with this football team and program in just a short time," USF athletic director Doug Woolard said. "He has provided outstanding leadership from day one and built a very competitive product on the field. I am so proud of our football team."
South Florida lost to N.C. State 14-0 in 2005 in Charlotte in the school's first bowl, the start of a six-year streak of bowl appearances.
Clemson, which has never played in the nine-year-old bowl, ranks ninth in the nation in scoring defense (17.8 points) while South Florida is 19th (19.5).
"South Florida presents us with an outstanding matchup," Swinney said. "Skip Holtz has done a great job in his first year as head coach of the Bulls. They beat Miami, who beat us, so it will be a great matchup."
The game, which will mark the first meeting between with the schools, will start at noon and be televised by ESPN.
"We feel that the Tigers and Bulls will be a very entertaining and compelling matchup on the field for everyone watching," bowl director Will Webb said. "We look forward to hosting everyone in Charlotte on New Year's Eve for this exciting game and all the surrounding events."
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