Texas-San Antonio's overall record of 1-5 won't put fear in the heart of opponents, but a closer glance reveals a team capable of hanging with some of the better teams in Conference USA.
USM hosts UTSA at 6 p.m. Saturday in a crucial contest for the Golden Eagles in their pursuit of a West Division title.
UTSA sits at 1-5 and 1-1 in Conference USA with its lone win coming on Oct. 3 at UTEP in a 25-6 contest. Its five losses have come to tough competition: Arizona, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Colorado State and Louisiana Tech.
C-USA West favorite Louisiana Tech had a kick a field goal with 10 seconds remaining to beat UTSA in San Antonio a week ago.
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USM is hoping for less drama on homecoming Saturday night.
"It means a lot to our players, our alumni and former players," Monken said. "This game counts twice because it's in the division and whoever wins will win any tiebreakers. It's important to us and I anticipate that we will put our best foot forward."
UTSA will enter Roberts Stadium without its starting quarterback, freshman Blake Bogenschutz, who is out with an injury.
Sophomore Dalton Sturm filled in for Bogenschutz last week and completed 18-of-27 passes for 227 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.
"He struggled in the first half. The second half is what I've seen everyday in practice," UTSA coach Larry Coker said. "He just relaxed and played. He is a good football player."
Jarveon Williams is UTSA's leading rusher with 105 carries for 530 yards and four touchdowns. The Roadrunners' top receiver is David Morgan II, who has 29 catches for 352 yards and four scores.
UTSA's top defensive player, free safety Nate Gaines, appears doubtful to play Saturday because of an injury. He has 50 tackles with two interceptions four pass breakups this season.
Southern Miss (3-3, 1-1) will look to avoid turnovers after giving it away five times in a 31-10 loss at Marshall last week.
That's the main focus for USM entering Saturday's contest.
"You can't turn it over like we did if you want to win games," Monken said. "Don't turn the ball over. It's playing better football."
Monken hopes his defense continues to build on its solid play the last two games. The defense was often put in bad situations last week, but gave up only 277 yards of total offense.