Chances to take on a bowl opponent from one of the Power 5 conferences rarely come along for Southern Miss, but that's the opportunity the Golden Eagles have in Dallas.
USM (9-4) faces Washington at 1:20 p.m. on Saturday in the Heart of Dallas Bowl at the historic Cotton Bowl stadium.
The last time USM faced a team from one of the top five conferences came in 2002 when it lost 33-23 to Oklahoma State in the 2002 Houston Bowl.
In Washington, USM faces a 6-6 squad that features wins over USC and Washington State. The Huskies have the Pac-12's top defense and have a talented, but young offense.
Southern Miss hopes its prolific offense can keep up the pace in Dallas Saturday.
Washington head coach Chris Petersen, who is in his second year on the job, expects his defense to be tested.
"They have one of the most prolific offenses in the country right now," Petersen said. "And, you know, our defense has played at a pretty high level most of the year, and so we have our hands full. I think we will truly be challenged in some ways like we haven't been all year. I think that will be interesting."
Southern Miss rolls into Saturday's game as just the second team in history with a 4,000-yard passer (Nick Mullens) and two 1,000-yard rushers, Jalen Richard and Ito Smith. The only other team to accomplish those numbers was the 2008 Oklahoma squad.
If USM senior receiver Casey Martin has a big day against Washington, Southern Miss has a chance to become the first team with a 4,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard rushers and two 1,000-yard receivers.
Martin is 145 yards shy of 1,000 yards while fellow senior receiver Mike Thomas has 62 catches for 1,201 yards and 12 scores.
Against Washington, the Southern Miss offense faces its stiffest test since the season opener against Mississippi State.
The Washington defense held opponents to averages of 349.9 total offense and 17.8 points a game.
The Southern Miss offense averages 519.8 yards a game and 40.6 points a contest.
"One thing we are going to have to do offensively is not turn it over and figure out a way to get explosive plays," USM head coach Todd Monken said. "That's one thing their defense has not given up a lot of. When you watch on tape, they do a great job of creating pressure without giving up of explosive plays, which is a sign of a really good defense."
The Washington defense features four all-conference selections: Sophomore safety Budda Baker, sophomore cornerback Sidney Jones, senior linebacker Travis Feeney and senior defensive tackle Taniela Tupou.
The Washington offense picked up its play late in the season, out-scoring Oregon State and Washington State by a combined 97-17 over the final two games of the season.
The Huskies rely on a pair of talented freshmen to lead the way on offense.
Freshman quarterback Jake Browning has completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 2,671 yards, 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Freshman running back Myles Gaskin has run 201 times for 1,121 yards and 10 touchdowns.
"Offensively, it's corralling, in my opinion, their quarterback," Monken said. "He's a real good athlete, not a runner per se, but extending plays and letting their skill guys run. It's going to be a real challenge, how do you get explosive plays, not give them up, and how do we win the turnover battle. It never really changes. That's what it's going to be."