HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The University of Southern Mississippi, the postseason mathematics are simple.
The Golden Eagles (4-4, 3-2 Conference USA) need to win at least two of their final three, regular-season games to reach the minimum six victories necessary for bowl eligibility.
The first opportunity will come Saturday at 6 p.m., when USM visits the University of Alabama-Birmingham (8-1, 6-0) at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala.
The Blazers, who have seven consecutive games, can clinch C-USA’s West Division and a spot in the conference championship game.
“We’re a team that’s got to keep battling, keep executing, and that’s really what I focus on,” USM coach Jay Hopson said. “We know we’re playing a good football team but we’re still mathematically in this thing so we just want to put our best effort forward.”
USM, coming off a 26-24 victory over Marshall University, will be looking to handcuff consecutive wins for the first time this season.
To do that, the Golden Eagles will have to do so against a rugged defense that ranks fourth in total defense (271.4 yards a game), fourth in pass defense (153.6 yards per game), second in third-down conversions allowed (25 of 110) and first in points allowed per game (12.1 per game).
“Defensively they swarm the football, they play really good defense,” Hopson said. “Coach (Bill) Clark has done a really great job at UAB and he’s a guy that certainly the accolades he has are well deserved.”
USM has not announced whether sophomore Jack Abraham will return to his starting duties at quarterback or whether freshman Tate Whatley will make a second consecutive start.
Abraham, who had started the season’s first eight games, suffered a leg injury in a loss at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and was held from the game with the Thundering Herd.