Couple of more weeks of college football, a flurry of biggest games before fading into the woodwork for nine months. Something to savor while we can, as much we can during the holidays.

The great thing this time around is that the University of Louisville football team is back in the bowl mix. Against Southern Mississippi, a familiar foe that would like nothing better than to remind UofL fans that they take the sport very seriously in Hattiesburg. 

The outcome of the game may be determined by which team wants the win the most. Southern Miss is coming in with a huge chip on its shoulder, as an incident earlier this week in St. Petersburg reminded us, a scuffle breaking out at one of the fan events when someone in red and black alluded to a lack of respect for Conference USA.

Louisville wants the improvement under Charlie Strong to continue, and a winning record of 7-6 would be considered confirmation of just that. A prime time event on ESPN, the only football game on TV, a possible national preview of things to come for the UofL football program.

  • The Beef O’Brady Bowl marks the ninth consecutive bowl for USM and the 13th in the last 14 years. USM holds a edge in the series with Louisville of 18-9-1. The Cards are 6-7-1 in bowl games.
  • In the most recent game between the two in 2009, barefooted Ryan Payne kicked a 32-yard field goal with 30 seconds left to give U of L a 25-23 win and a fourth consecutive victory over Southern Miss in 2005.
  • Louisville has an 87-77 mark against C-USA teams, the most recent a 56-0 win over Memphis this season. USM beat Memphis, 41-19.
  • Bilal Powell is closing in on the school’s single-season record for rushing, needing only 100 yards to surpass the mark of 1,429 yards set by Howard Stevens in 1971. Powell ran for more than 100 yards seven times this season.
  • Louisville ranks ninth in the nation in passing defense, yielding just 162.5 yards per game. Opponents are completing just 50 percent of their throws. Southern Miss relies heavily on passing, averaging 254 yards per game.

Nice to be back in the bowl picture. A win would make the next nine months much easier to endure.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

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