Southern Miss needs six wins to get bowl eligible, but seven wins is the only way to ensure the Golden Eagles a spot in the postseason.
Conference USA has seven primary bowl tie-ins this season along with a secondary tie-in with the Independence Bowl if the SEC or ACC can't provide a team. The seven primary C-USA bowls are: the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, the Miami Beach Bowl, the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, the St. Petersburg Bowl, the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl and the Arizona Bowl.
USM stands at 2-1 and needs five more victories to lock down a spot in the postseason. Here are five games the Eagles must win:
North Texas (Oct. 3): The Mean Green (0-2) seem slightly improved over last year's 4-8 season, but they appear very beatable. After the Golden Eagles beat North Texas, 30-20, in Denton last year, it's hard to see them losing at home this season.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Sun Herald
UTSA (Oct. 17): The Roadrunners (0-3) looked like they'd be tough to handle in a 42-32 loss at No. 22 Arizona in the opener, but they've struggled last two weeks against Kansas State and Oklahoma State. This will be USM's homecoming game and it has to go in the win column to reach a bowl.
Charlotte (Oct. 24): This is one road game that is a must win for USM. The 49ers (2-1) trailed Middle Tennessee State 42-7 after ONE QUARTER Saturday before falling 73-14.
UTEP (Oct. 31): This game looks very winnable for the Golden Eagles in Hattiesburg. UTEP (1-2) lost its best player, running back Aaron Jones, to injury. The Miners are giving up 54.7 points a game on defense.
Old Dominion (Nov. 21): The Monarchs won't fold in Hattiesburg, but they aren't quite as good as last season when quarterback Tyler Heinicke led them to a 6-6 record in their first season. If USM protects its home field the rest of the way, it will have a good shot at its first bowl bid since 2011.
In the end, six wins may be all USM needs.