HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WLBT) - After missing out on a bowl appearance last season despite having the necessary six wins, the Southern Miss football team is just happy to be practicing in December again.
The Golden Eagles began work towards the January 4 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl last Friday and are still in the beginning stages practices after head coach Jay Hopson gave his team a much needed week off. USM sputtered towards the end of the 2019 season with losses to Western Kentucky and at Florida Atlantic, so the focus during the time between that and the bowl is to get healthy and recalibrate things to return to the force that once looked like Conference-USA championship contender.
Beyond that though, the Eagles are excited to see an old friend when they take the field at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Ft. Worth, TX.
Once upon a time, one of USM’s bigger rivals in CUSA was the Tulane Green Wave and that battle will return in 2020. The two teams have faced off 30 times through the years when they were conference opponents. The Golden Eagles lead the all-time series over Tulane, 23-7, and have won six straight dating back to their last meeting in 2010 which ended in a 46-30 USM victory.
The two teams played annually from 1979 until 2006 and intermittently in the “Battle of the Bell” until Tulane left CUSA for the American Athletic Conference in 2014. Until the latest bowl pairings, the next meeting was set to take place at the SuperDome in New Orleans in the 2022 regular season.
And to add more on the line than a bowl victory and the trophy, there are rumors that the actual bell trophy that the two teams used to play for will also be up for grabs.
The Golden Eagles will practice every day this week until Saturday when they get an extended break for Christmas. The team will return to practice on the December 27 and then depart for Ft. Worth on December 30.
Kick-off for the Armed Forced Bowl is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. CST on Jan 4 and will be televised on ESPN.