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USM preparing for showdown with TCU

By By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
Dec. 19, 2000
HATTIESBURG Number one versus number two.
While it isn't a BCS national championship title game, the above does refer to the rankings of the defenses that will be showcased in the season's first bowl matchup of the year when Southern Miss and Texas Christian lock horns in the Mobile, Alabama Bowl on Dec. 20.
The Southern Miss defense ended the year ranked No. 2 nationally in total defense while TCU is ranked No. 1 in the land in that category.
USM stumbled in three of its final four games to go 7-4 in Bower's 10th campaign at the helm.
It doesn't get any easier next week against TCU and Heisman trophy candidate LaDainian Tomlinson. The Golden Eagles are listed as one touchdown underdogs.
The big key for Bower and company is stopping running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who has rushed for more than 2,000 yards this season.
Bower said everything seemed to building at just the right rate. This week, however, things aren't as hectic, with the main focus being final exams.
The Eagles will practice today, Wednesday and Friday before arriving in Mobile at 3:30 p.m. on Friday.
The Golden Eagles will practice Saturday through the following Tuesday at a high school near Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile before the ESPN-televised tilt.
USM will be healthier than it has all season-long. Bower said wide receiver Leroy Handy is back from a shoulder injury. Linebacker Roy Magee and running back DaWayne Woods are both nearing pre-injury condition.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for the Meridian Star. E-mail him at rdark@themeridianstar.com.

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