The Southern Miss football program is in the market to schedule a 12th game for Dec. 1, but plenty will have to fall into place to make it a reality.
USM was originally scheduled to travel to Appalachian State on Sept. 15, but that game was postponed due to Hurricane Florence — along with 19 other college football games in the Carolinas. The two schools later announced that the game won’t be played at all this season.
The Golden Eagles sit at 2-2 and bowl eligibility is no guarantee with difficult games remaining in Conference USA play, starting with Saturday’s trip to North Texas (5-1, 1-1). USM also hosts Louisiana Tech (3-2, 1-1) and Marshall (3-2, 1-1) and travels to UAB (4-1, 2-0).
A 21-20 loss to Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 8 in Hattiesburg served as a significant setback in USM’s pursuit of a bowl game.
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If USM is shy of the six wins needed for bowl eligibility entering the final two weeks of the season, the urgency to add a 12th game on Dec. 1 will increase.
“We are in wait-and-see mode,” USM athletic director Jon Gilbert said on Monday. “We’re open to opportunities, but we want to make sure it’s in our program’s best interest. We’ll have to wait and see how the conference schedule plays out.”
If USM does try to schedule a game on Dec. 1, it will likely be against one of the FBS squads who also had games canceled by Hurricane Florence. The most likely candidates are Virginia Tech (3-2), North Carolina (1-3), North Carolina State (5-0), South Carolina (3-2) and East Carolina (2-3).
It seems possible that more than one of those teams could enter the late stages of the season needing to land a 12th game for a shot at bowl eligibility.
Gilbert didn’t rule out the possibility of hosting a game in Hattiesburg, but a road trip seems more likely considering most of the options hail from Power 5 conferences.
Gilbert, who said he has no deadline in place yet to schedule a 12th game, has had discussions with officials from other schools about the possibility of playing on Dec. 1.
“The game would have to make sense for us competitively and it would have to make sense for us financially,” Gilbert said. “I’d want to visit with (head coach Jay Hopson) and determine what he thinks is best for the program.”
USM’s M.M. Roberts Stadium is scheduled to play host to high school football state championship games on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. In the event that USM hosts the C-USA title game on Dec. 1, the high school title games would likely be moved up to Nov. 29 and Nov. 30.
Gilbert said that the trip to Appalachian State game may be rescheduled for 2024.
Baseball fall games
In other scheduling news, the Southern Miss baseball program announced Tuesday that it will host Nicholls State at 1 p.m. Oct. 28 in a fall exhibition game.
The Golden Eagles are also set to travel to Tulane for a noon contest on Nov. 4.
Admission will be free for the Oct. 28 exhibition.