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Sports Analysis: New Southern Miss football schedule adds improvements

Analysis: New Southern Miss football schedule adds improvements

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On Aug. 6, the Southern Miss Department of Athletics released a revised schedule for the upcoming football season, which replaced two canceled games against Jackson State and Auburn. While fans may be upset about the loss of these opponents, the new schedule increases winning chances and the opportunity to rekindle one of the team’s fiercest rivalries.

The need for a new schedule came after the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) postponed its season and the Southeastern Conference (SEC) announced it was only playing games within its conference. Southern Miss was left without two of their fast-approaching scheduled games, but managed to reach out and find two replacements.

The revised schedule replaced the Sep. 19 contest against Jackson State with the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles from the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC). However, on Aug. 13, the OVC also postponed its season, once again leaving the date open for another replacement.

With the cancelation of the prior scheduled game versus Auburn, Southern Miss will now not play an SEC opponent for the first time since 2012. The vaunted conference brought excitement and attention to the Golden Eagles, which will be missed. However, the games rarely have a positive outcome on the team’s victory column.

Southern Miss holds a 23.4% win percentage against SEC teams (32-108-3). Southern Miss is not incapable of competing against an SEC team, but the odds are not in their favor. In the last decade, the team has a 1-11 record versus SEC opponents and is outscored by an average of 19 points per game.

The new schedule replaces the Sep. 26 game at Auburn with a home game versus the Tulane Green Wave. The move gives Southern Miss seven home games in one season for the first time since 1920, giving the team a major advantage. Last year, the Golden Eagles played at The Rock five times and finished with a 4-1 home record.

Coincidentally, the history between Southern Miss and Tulane football also dates back to 1920. At that time, Southern Miss was the Mississippi Normal College, and the football team had only been in existence for eight years. Normal lost to Tulane 19-0 in their first matchup.

The schools did not play another football game against each other until 1979. From then on, the two teams played each other for 27 consecutive years, creating the historic rivalry that became known as the “Battle for the Bell”.

The teams recently met for the first time in a decade at the 2020 Armed Forces Bowl, which Tulane won 30-13. However, they have not played in a regular-season game since 2010. 

In 2017, the schools announced a four-game series that will start in 2022. With the addition of this year’s game, the schools are scheduled to play each other five times in eight years. One of Southern Miss’ most historic rivalries will be renewed.

It will be interesting to see how the upcoming games against Tulane turn out. Throughout the rivalry, Southern Miss has held the advantage with a 23-9 record. Against Tulane, the Golden Eagles have scored an average of 27 points per game, while allowing the opposite team an average of 16 points per game. 

As uncertain as the upcoming football season has already presented itself to be, Southern Miss was able to make the most out of an unprecedented scheduling challenge. Barring any more cancelations, players and fans can look forward to four consecutive home games to begin the season, as well as a preview of the revived “Battle of the Bell”.

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