Southern Miss Bowling for Hardware

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For the better part of two years, the Southern Miss football program was defined by one of the longest losing streaks in all of college football. Those days are long gone and even though this season was in many ways a struggle, USM’s comeback story is nearly complete.
After a winless 2012 campaign, Southern Miss to the top was a comeback story with a lot of blank pages. Eventually the future of Southern Miss football got over the writer’s block, just in time to script up two chapters devoted entirely to bowl games. Southern Miss Defensive Back Devonta Foster said, “A lot of guys are focused, man. Cause a lot of guys, they wanted this. Being bowl eligible came onto the last game of the season. We were focused for that game and a lot of guys want this game. It’s going to be a good sight to watch.”
Earning a trip to the New Orleans Bowl didn’t come without a heavy dose of adversity. After starting 2016 with a record of 4-1, USM then proceeded to drop five out of its next six games before finally punching its ticket to the Big Easy with a dominating win over Louisiana Tech in the regular season finale. Southern Miss Defensive Back Picasso Nelson Jr. said, “I feel like the season is a perfect example of life. We started out so high and people said so many good things about us and we had a dip and we had certain people say bad things about us, but neither one of those are true. So regardless of what happens in life, you still have to work and have that chip on your shoulder.”
On a deeper level, the ups and downs of Jay Hopson’s first year in Hattiesburg are a microcosm of the highs and lows, dating back to 2012. Even though the chance at a conference championship has passed this senior class by, that story book ending still has black and gold written all over it. Southern Miss Quarterback Nick Mullens said, “Yeah, definitely. I mean that’s what we’re going down there to do, go down there to win a bowl game, bring hardware back and we’ve had a lot of success here, but I really want to hold up a trophy.”
Southern Miss Offensive Lineman Dylan Bradley said, “I just want this game as bad as everybody wants it. I want to leave here with a ring. I didn’t get the conference ring I was expecting, but leaving here with another ring as a bowl champion, that’ll be good. I don’t want a plaque that says runners-up or a trophy that says runner-up. I want it to say champion.”
Southern Miss and Louisiana-Lafayette kick things off from New Orleans next Saturday at 8 p.m.