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September 22, 2007

A Date with the Golden Eagles

BOISE- We're not looking ahead, it just feels that way because Boise State doesn't play again until September 27th. But that night, on national television (5:30 PM, ESPN), the Broncos welcome in Southern Miss from Conference USA.

Not So. Miss., So. Mississippi, or USM.

Seriously, it says in the Golden Eagles' media guide that the university "respectfully request(s) that only Southern Miss be used in all references." It's on page 30.

Well call that team whatever you want, but know that its dominance in C-USA rivals Boise State's dominance in the WAC. The Golden Eagles are the only Conference USA team to win the league championship four different times and play for the championship five times. They have a 58-19 league record since the conference was formed in 1996, and are the only school in the conference to make an appearance in five straight bowl games.

That reads a lot like the Broncos' success, doesn't it?

Boise State and Southern Miss have never met, though the Golden Eagles have played at Bronco Stadium before. They lost to Idaho 42-35 in the 1998 Humanitarian Bowl.

But next Thursday, USM (oops, Southern Miss) will take on a BSU team that has won 53 of its last 55 home games. However, both teams will have had an identical 11-day break (Southern Miss also has a "bye" this week), and both teams will also be coming off close wins in week three (BSU beat Wyoming by ten points Saturday, Southern Miss beat East Carolina by seven).

There are more similarities.

The Golden Eagles have an incredibly talented runningback, sophomore Damion Fletcher. He's 5'11", the same height as Bronco tailback Ian Johnson, and last year set a Conference USA freshman rushing record with 1,388 yards.

Then there's the "NFL connection."

One of Southern Miss' most famous alums is current Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre (who played for them from 1987-1990). Of course, former Boise State players Daryn Colledge (offensive line) and Korey Hall (linebacker-turned-fullback) also play for Green Bay.

Not that that has anything to do with the current Golden Eagles, but it's nice to know.

It's also nice to know that Boise State football coach Chris Petersen isn't smiling following his team's sloppy 24-14 win over Wyoming Saturday, in the Broncos' last game leading up to the matchup with So. Miss, er, Southern Miss.
"Well we talked a lot about this competitive thing and really just not being afraid to fail," said Petersen, who is 15-1 as Boise State's head football coach. "Really, kind of setting our jaw and putting that chip back on our shoulder and playing like we played for a long time around here."

Both teams have identical 2-1 records. Neither is ranked in the latest college football polls.


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