USM sets sight on C-USA title

By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
Nov. 25, 2003
HATTIESBURG The University of Southern Mississippi did something last Thursday that the football program hadn't been able to do since 1999 claim at least a share of the Conference USA title.
The Golden Eagles (8-3, 7-0 C-USA) dashed then-ranked No. 10 TCU's dreams of its first undefeated season since 1938 and a berth to a Bowl Championship Series game with a 40-28 win at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
USM's victory set a new record for C-USA wins last Thursday, and the Eagles have chance to claim the conference crown outright on the road against East Carolina (1-10, 1-6 C-USA) on Saturday.
The Eagles have been coming to the football field ready to play for the last five weeks.
USM will enter its final game of the regular season on a five game winning streak, in which the Eagles have outscored their opponents 174-61.
A far cry from a team that went 3-3 over the first half of the season and struggled to find ways to move the ball and score.
USM can now claim its fourth C-USA title in seven years with a win over East Carolina on Saturday.
The regular-season ending match up pits Bower against his former defensive coordinator John Thompson.
Bower down played meeting one of his former coordinators in the season finale.
Bower and the rest of the USM coaching coaching staff will not have to look hard to find a way to motivate the Eagles when they face the Pirates at 2 p.m. Saturday.
USM will win the C-USA outright and earn a spot in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn., as the conference champion with a victory.