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South Florida and Syracuse will play in 2023 Boca Raton Bowl

South Florida clinches first bowl appearance since 2018 under first-year head coach Alex Golesh.

NCAA Football: South Florida at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

It’s an old Big East matchup in Boca!

The South Florida Bulls and Syracuse Orange battle in the 2023 Boca Raton Bowl in a matchup between AAC and ACC opponents — one of three clashes between those conferences on the docket this bowl season.

South Florida (6-6, 4-4 AAC) is making its first bowl appearance since 2018 under first-year head coach Alex Golesh. Until Week 4, the Bulls rode an FBS-high 18-game losing streak to FBS opponents, but Golesh quickly turned things around. The former Tennessee offensive coordinator guided the program to five FBS victories in his first year at the helm to clinch bowl eligibility. South Florida seeks its first bowl victory since 2017 where it defeated Texas Tech in a thrilling Birmingham Bowl finish.

The Bulls are 6-4 all-time in bowl games. This will be their first Boca Raton Bowl appearance, located roughly 225 miles from campus. South Florida played a home game at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton in 2022 against East Carolina due to evacuating Tampa for Hurricane Ian.

Syracuse (6-6, 2-6 ACC) started 4-0 but dropped each of its next five games. Yet, the Orange recovered with two November victories to secure their second-straight bowl appearance. This is the first time the Orange will play in back-to-back bowls since 2012 and 2013.

Syracuse fired head coach Dino Babers on Nov. 19 after eight seasons and tight ends coach Nunzio Campanile will serve as the interim coach the Boca Raton Bowl. The Orange announced Georgia defensive backs coach Fran Brown as their next head coach, but his tenure with the Orange officially launches in fall 2024.

South Florida and Syracuse shared the Big East from 2005 through 2012 and have plenty of history together, facing off 10 times. The Bulls hold an 8-2 all-time lead in the series and won the last two meetings in 2015 and 2016. The two finally diverged separate ways when the Bulls were a founding member of the rebranded AAC in 2013 while the Orange fled to the ACC.

The 2023 Boca Raton Bowl kicks off its 10th annual game on Thursday, Dec. 21 from FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, FL. It will be televised on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET.