USM headed to the New Orleans Bowl

Published 9:56 am Monday, December 5, 2016

Southern Miss is heading to a familiar location and facing a familiar opponent for its bowl game.

Southern Miss on Sunday accepted an invitation to play Louisiana-Lafayette in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl in the Superdome on Saturday, Dec. 17.

The game will kick off at 8 p.m. and be televised on ESPN.

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It’s the 52nd time the teams have played each other — the last was in 2008 — and the fifth time Southern Miss has played in the New Orleans Bowl. It also played in this bowl in 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009.

“I am extremely proud of the 2016 Golden Eagle football team and very excited to get the invitation to play in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl,” Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson, a Vicksburg native, said in a release. “It is a great destination bowl and the Golden Eagle football family is excited to continue our season in the City of New Orleans.”

Southern Miss finished 6-6 and became bowl-eligible by beating Louisiana Tech in its regular-season finale.

It’s the second consecutive season the Golden Eagles will play in a bowl, after they had missed the postseason three years in a row from 2012-14.

“I’m proud of the way our players and coaches fought through adversity throughout the season to earn the opportunity to play in this game,” Southern Miss athletic director Bill McGillis said in a release. “The R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl should be both a terrific match-up on the field and a sensational atmosphere and environment off the field, with both programs supported by very passionate fan bases. We need to fill the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with Golden Eagles clad in Black & Gold and make a statement to the college football world about who we are.”

Louisiana-Lafayette also finished with a 6-6 record, and is even more familiar with the Superdome than Southern Miss. This is ULL’s fifth appearance in six seasons in the New Orleans Bowl.

Although the bowl is one of the preliminaries for the bigger matchups around New Year’s, both programs seemed happy with the matchup. The combination of a close destination and a regional opponent should bring a lively crowd to the game.

The average attendance in Louisiana-Lafayette’s first four New Orleans Bowl appearances was 45,102. In Southern Miss’ last three appearances, it was 29,316.

“We have had great success playing in one of the great destination cities in the world, and it has become a second home for us,” ULL coach Mark Hudspeth said. “Playing in the New Orleans Bowl provides a great overall experience, not only for our players, but also for our fans who have given us overwhelming support in the past.”

Southern Miss (6-6) vs. Louisiana Lafayette (6-6)
Saturday, Dec. 17, 8 p.m.
TV: ESPN; Radio: 105.1 FM
Tickets: New Orleans Bowl Tickets

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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