Prior to Saturday, the last time the Southern Miss football program had beaten UAB was 2013. Well before Jay Hopson’s return to Hattiesburg in 2016 and certainly before USM’s overtime heartbreaker in 2018.
The Golden Eagles made good on their quest to avenge last year’s 26-23 loss, ending a three game losing streak to the Blazers in dominating fashion by way of a 37-2 beat down.
Excluding a second quarter safety, USM pitched its first defensive shutout in more than two years, allowing less than 200 yards of total offense and holding UAB to just 2-14 on third down conversions.
A performance motivated by not only this year’s chase at a conference title, but also last year’s cold November loss in Birmingham that cost the Black and Gold the west division.
Here’s Coach Hopson on his forgive, but never forget approach. “This was a tough one to swallow a year ago. I mean you think about it, we’re possibly conference champs if we don’t lose in overtime. That’s one play. And that’s the stuff as a football player and as a football coach, you’ve got to sleep on for your whole life. Not just for the year, you just don’t get over it. When you’re 67 and I’m lying in bed, I still think about one play. And it never goes away. It doesn’t. I remember out here in 2002 – Patrick, I don’t know if you were around – we played Louisville and lost in double overtime. Ugh. I still think about it. I remember I had to get up the next morning and drive to Shreveport, and I wanted to drive off the Mississippi River Bridge into the deal. So I mean you don’t forget about it as a football coach. It doesn’t go away. It still stings you 30 years later. So I think one thing that was probably good for the players and coaches, you get a chance to at least get back on the field and play.”
With the win, Southern Miss is now bowl game eligible for the fifth consecutive year.