Southern Miss sets its aim for a third-straight bowl appearance and its first Conference USA title since 2011 with the announcement of the school's 2017 football schedule Thursday morning.
The Golden Eagles open the campaign at home, Sept. 2, for the second time in the last three seasons with an opponent from the Southeastern Conference, as they entertain Kentucky at Carlisle-Faulkner Field at M.M. Roberts Stadium. Southern Miss rallied from 25 points down in last year's opener to defeat the Wildcats 44-35 in Lexington.
The schedule also marks the second consecutive year and third time in the last four seasons that the Golden Eagles have a pair of Southeastern Conference foes on the slate as the squad also travels to Tennessee for a Nov. 4 date.
Southern Miss, which again plays host to a six-game home slate, plays three of their first four games at home to start the campaign. After playing host to Kentucky, the Golden Eagles welcome Southern from Baton Rouge to The Rock, Sept. 9, and then travel to Monroe, La., to face ULM in a Sept. 16 matchup. After a bye week on Sept. 23, second-year coach Jay Hopson's squad opens C-USA play at home, Sept. 30, versus North Texas.
The Golden Eagles then travel to UTSA for the second-straight year for an Oct. 7 date in the Alamodome. The rest of the schedule for that month includes UTEP traveling to Hattiesburg for an Oct. 14contest, before the Golden Eagles travel to Ruston to face Louisiana Tech, Oct. 21, and then finish at The Rock, Oct. 28, as they welcome back UAB to the league, who dropped their program following the 2014 campaign, and subsequently reinstated it.
After the date at Tennessee to start November, the Golden Eagles then travel to Rice for a Nov. 11, before ending the home regular season the following week, Nov. 18, by welcoming Charlotte back to The Rock for the second-straight year.
The Golden Eagles finish the regular season, Nov. 25, at Marshall.
The 2017 C-USA 14-team alignment, which has all teams playing eight league games, features seven teams in the East Division and seven teams in the West Division. Charlotte, FIU, Florida Atlantic, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion and WKU comprise the East Division, while Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Rice, Southern Miss, UAB, UTEP and UTSA make up the West Division.
Each school plays every team in its division once for six games, while playing two cross-over opponents from the opposite division. After having stand-alone schedules for the past four seasons due to realignment, the 2017 season marks the return to a multi-year schedule rotation that will be in place for the next several seasons. Due to the move from 13 teams to 14 teams for 2017, a couple of teams will play division opponents at the same location as 2016, a situation that was unavoidable with the West Division moving from six teams to seven.
The 2017 schedule complies with C-USA scheduling policies as approved by the Board of Directors. In addition, the schedule provides the following:
All teams finish their Conference schedule with two games of one at home and one away.
Nearly all teams have two home games and two away games in the first half of the Conference schedule as well as the second half of the Conference schedule; and
All bye weeks take place between weeks four and nine.
It is important to note that all games are subject to date changes and some dates are expected to move in the coming weeks in order accommodate national television.
A schedule of televised games will be released at a later date. Conference USA's 13th annual Championship Game, pitting the champions of the East and West Divisions, is scheduled for Saturday, December 2.
2017 Southern Miss Football Schedule
Sept. 2 KENTUCKY
Sept. 9 SOUTHERN
Sept. 16 at ULM
Sept. 23 Bye
Sept. 30 NORTH TEXAS*
Oct. 7 at UTSA*
Oct. 14 UTEP*
Oct. 21 at Louisiana Tech*
Oct. 28 UAB*
Nov. 4 at Tennessee
Nov. 11 at Rice*
Nov. 18 CHARLOTTE*
Nov. 25 at Marshall*