New Orleans Bowl: Middle Tennessee St. vs. Southern Miss.

Written December 18th, 2009 by MaliBuckeye

Look, I’ve got really bad memories from The Big Easy… must be a voo-doo thing.

Middle Tennessee State University (9-3, 7-1 Sun Belt) vs. Southern Mississippi University (7-5, 5-3 CUSA)

December 20, 2009 8:30 PM ET

Superdome, New Orleans, LA

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With Bowl season fully underway, we now take time to enjoy the wonder that is the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

Matt Kenseth. FYI.

Matt Kenseth. FYI.

Yeah, I’d never heard of them either, but I guess they are a transportation company. I do feel good that their mission statement concludes with “Customer satisfaction is mandatory to ensure future success“. So, this is going to be a great game; if not, I have permission to never watch the NOB or use their company again. They’ve been “hosting” this thing since 2006, so I think they know what they’re doing.

The storied history of this epic tilt hearkens way back to the days of yore- as long as you define “yore” to mean “2001″. Originally sponsored by the Wyndham Hotel group, it also had initial conference tie ins with the WAC. But, when they became all uppity and bolted, Conference USA gladly filled the void.

Historically, this game is played in the Superdome, with the exception of 2005 when the damage from Katrina forced relocation to Lafayette.  Back in New Orleans since 2006, the fans attending will certainly enjoy the wonders of Bourbon Street, including the great beignets at the Cafe Du Mond and Preservation Hall’s famous Jazz musicians.

This year’s matchup is between the Sun Belt’s Blue Raiders of MTSU and CUSA’s Golden Eagles of Southern Miss. At least I think that’s who’s playing… the Bowl home page and the Southern Miss page have the Eagles facing the Troy Trojans- Aren’t they going to Detroit?  Given that it’s in Mich1gAAn, I wouldn’t blame them from boycotting.

MTSU Dept of Recording Industry. One of the best in the nation

MTSU Dept of Recording Industry. One of the best in the nation

The men from Murfreesboro have amassed a 9-3 record (10-3 if you count their spring game), and only lost to the aforementioned Trojans in conference play. Their major upset of the year came as a 32-31 win over Maryland (proving the president wrong); they dropped games against the only two other BCS conference teams they played- Clemson and Mississippi State.

The Blue Raiders (an interesting name that seems to have been stolen) are led on offense by QB Dwight Dasher, who ranks 9th in the nation in total offense.  On defense, Sun Belt defensive player of the year Chris McCoy anchors a team that is 4th in the country in sacks.  Nice work, Raiders- you represent the second largest university in Tennessee proudly.

Its 5:00 somewhere...

It's 5:00 somewhere...

When you think Southern Mississippi, you immediately think of their most famous alumni; performing at a high level of excellence in spite of their age. Heck, Mack Brown is headed out to Cali to try to win another National Championship, and Parrothead Jimmy Buffet is still going strong.  Yeah, and there’s that one guy… are we sure he hasn’t retired yet?

The Golden Eagles are 7-5, with a 5-3 CUSA record. They split against BCS opponents, defeating Virginia and falling to Kansas. Both of whom fired their coaches. I’ll call that a coincidence just to be safe. They are making their eighth appearance in a bowl game, winning an overtime thriller against Troy (there’s that team again) in the 2008 New Orleans Bowl.

On the field, Southern Miss is led by the rushing attack of Damon Fletcher, who is seeking to become only the ninth player in NCAA history to rush for 1000 yards in each of his four seasons. He needs 63 yards to do so. In addition, quarterback Martevious Young has one of the greatest names in college football. Defensively, Eddie Hicks leads Conference USA in interceptions, as the Golden Eagles’s defense prides themselves in turnovers. Over the past eight plus years, they are fifth in the nation in turnover margin, and have returned three fumbles for scores in 2009.

The game is televised on ESPN at 8:30 PM Eastern Time on Sunday, December 20. So, if you don’t want to watch the old Southern Miss QB over on NBC, you know what to do.

Who Are We Picking?

Jeff at the BBC: Southern Miss

Mali: Southern Miss

Jim: Southern Miss

Eric: Southern Miss

I’m really tempted by the Blue Raiders here, but feel that Southern Miss has seen a higher level of play week in and week out. In addition, MTSU’s Dasher is a bit INT prone (14 for the season)- no word on Dancer or Prancer. It’s a toss up, but since I don’t really care a ton about either team, I’ll go with the Eagles.


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