NEW ORLEANS, LA (WLOX) - Bowl game media days can sometimes be an overcrowded gathering of nosy reporters, including yours truly, speaking with college kids who would probably rather study for final exams than answer repetitive questions.
Alas, the players and coaches from the two 6-6 teams were more than gracious enough to answer the rapid-fire answer-initiators leading up to the 2016 New Orleans Bowl this weekend.
Southern Miss and Louisiana. One of those teams will take home a visually-striking New Orleans Bowl trophy, while the other receives their seventh loss of the season in front of what is expected to be at least 30,000 fans in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Saturday at 8 p.m.
"That's exciting to me. I don't know how to explain it," Southern Miss senior wide receiver D.J. Thompson said. "I'm ready for them to see us play in that type of atmosphere."
"It's a great place to play," USM head coach Jay Hopson said. "I played here as a player and coached here as a coach. Who doesn't like the Superdome? It's a special place. You know, it's New Orleans. It's a special place."
Louisiana is led by sixth-year head coach Mark Hudspeth, whose 2012 and 2014 teams actually had their New Orleans Bowl wins vacated because of NCAA sanctions. The Cajuns also feature former LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings, who's thrown for more than 2,000 yards and 11 touchdowns but also 12 interceptions.
"The experience has been great, the team has accepted me," Jennings said. "The coaches (as well). It's been a great time in Lafayette. It's not that much different from Baton Rouge, the teammates and things like that you have to learn. My experience has been great so far."
With a healthy Nick Mullens in charge of the Southern Miss offense, there's no reason to think the Golden Eagles will be outmatched. But if they continue a trend similar to the -16 turnover differential, things can change quickly in favor of the Ragin' Cajuns.