Kerry Klecic, Editor In Chief

TORONTO-There was a lot of partying at midfield of the Rogers Centre on Saturday after USF’s 27-3 victory over Northern Illinois in the International Bowl.

There were a lot of water coolers thrown on coaches. There were tears. Even USF President Judy Genshaft and Provost Ralph Wilcox made the trip up to Toronto and stood near the podium as the Bulls (8-5) lifted the trophy in front of their fans.

And in the middle of the celebration, in the middle of the tears and high fives, stood 16 seniors who finished their careers with 34 total wins — by far the most of any class in school history.

Those were the players who showed the most emotion, including a very special water cooler splash over defensive end George Selvie as he sat on the bench while the clock clicked down to zero, solidifying one of the best careers in program history.

“They’ve done a great job,” said USF coach Jim Leavitt. “I told our team last night that I wanted our seniors to go out with a win. I told our juniors and sophomores and freshmen: ‘I hope and pray that you all will have the same opportunity that our seniors did.’”

How’s this for a resume: four bowl appearances, two straight wins in bowls and helping the program climb as high as No. 2 in the country in 2007.

When asked what he will remember most, Selvie said: “Our camaraderie. We’ve always been together. Me, Matt (Grothe), (Safety) Nate (Allen) and (corner Jerome) Murphy, we’ve all been together and fooled around. We’ve been the class that’s been the first for everything.”

Selvie was named an All-American twice, Grothe, who missed more than half of this season with an ACL injury, is the Big East’s all-time leader in total yards and Murphy, who had an interception Saturday, played in a record 52 career games.

“This means a lot to us,” said USF senior linebacker Kion Wilson, who finished the season with a team-high 105 tackles. “Coach Leavitt always tells us to remember the last game because it’s the one you’ll remember the longest. It’s great to go out with a win.”

It looked for awhile like the Bulls might want to forget their last game after coming out slow and sluggish.

But USF rebounded in the second half, as USF junior running back Mike Ford delivered with a career-high 207 yards and added a touchdown in the second half after the team totaled -3 rushing yards in the first, and junior receiver A.J. Love had two touchdowns to lead the Bulls away from a 3-3 tie at halftime.

“The first half we didn’t play South Florida football, so we talked at halftime and said … we were going to go out and run the ball and do what we do best,” Ford said.

Redshirt freshman quarterback B.J. Daniels was inconsistent, turning in a poor first half but rebounding with a good second half to finish 14 of 22 for 217 yards and two touchdowns.

About the only thing that was consistent was USF’s defense, which seemingly put a stop to everything Northern Illinois (7-6) tried. The Bulls held the Huskies to 238 yards.

“You always want to end your career on a good note, so coming up to Toronto and getting a win with a great defensive performance on defense is great,” Selvie said.

The defense loses most from USF’s senior class, including Selvie, Wilson, Murphy, linebacker Chris Robinson, who had two tackles for a loss Saturday, and Allen.

“I’m going to always remember how everyone fought and stuck together as a group,” said USF punter Delbert Alvarado. “We faced all the highs and lows, all the positives and negatives, and in the end we ended up dancing.”

So, when will it set in with Selvie that his career is finally over? It didn’t take long.

“It set in when they poured that tub of ice water all over me,” he said. “It set in then. I knew it was over.”

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