Southern Miss

Southern Miss in talks with multiple schools for a possible 12th football game

Southern Miss athletic director Jon Gilbert is still in talks with multiple schools about the prospect of scheduling a 12th football game for Dec. 1.

USM (4-4, 3-2) had its Sept. 15 road game with Appalachian State canceled due to Hurricane Florence, leaving the Golden Eagles one less opportunity at reaching the six-win mark to earn bowl eligibility.

USM’s 26-24 victory over Marshall on Saturday revived the team’s bowl hopes after suffering a significant setback in a 20-17 loss at Charlotte the prior week.

Gilbert said Monday that there’s a good chance a 12th game could be scheduled within a couple of weeks.

“We’re looking and having discussions with a few teams, but nothing is final,” he said.

Gilbert declined to give a list of the schools that he’s in talks with.

Virginia Tech, which is 4-4 and had the Sept. 15 game against East Carolina canceled, remains one possibility since it has yet to schedule an opponent for Dec. 1.

Gilbert acknowledged that he is in talks with at least one program that is not a member of a Power 5 conference.

“We’re still exploring opportunities as they present themselves,” he said.

South Carolina (5-3) appeared to be a strong candidate to host the Golden Eagles on Dec. 1, but that’s no longer an option after the Gamecocks announced last week that they will host Akron (4-4) that day. The Zips were likely able to move quickly to schedule the game after being eliminated from conference title contention in a Thursday night loss to Northern Illinois.

Gilbert wants a 12th game to make financial sense, but the main objective is to create a path to the postseason for the Golden Eagles.

“Ultimately, we want to put our team in the best position to make the postseason,” he said.

USM is still mathematically in the hunt in the C-USA West, but faces a difficult road trip to UAB (8-1, 6-0) this week. The game will kick off at 6:30 p.m. and be broadcast on beIN Sports.

The Golden Eagles host Louisiana Tech (6-3, 4-1) in a crucial contest on Nov. 17 and then travel to UTEP (1-8, 1-4) on Nov. 24 in the regular season finale.

Conference USA has seven bowl tie-ins and five teams that have already become eligible for the postseason — UAB, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee (6-3), FIU (6-3) and North Texas (7-2).

Southern Miss, Marshall (5-3), Charlotte (4-5) and FAU (4-5) are the teams that have the best chance at earning the final two tie-ins.

C-USA’s seven tie-ins are the Dec. 18 Boca Raton Bowl, the Dec. 20 Gasparilla Bowl (in Tampa, Fla.), the Dec. 15 New Mexico Bowl, the Dec. 21 Bahamas Bowl, the Dec. 15 New Orleans Bowl, the Dec. 22 Hawaii Bowl and the Dec. 26 First Responder Bowl (in Dallas).

Conference USA also has conditional tie-ins with the Independence Bowl and the Frisco Bowl in the event that other conferences can’t fulfill their tie-ins.

Patrick Magee: 228-896-2333, @Patrick_Magee.