Former conference foes and regional rivals will meet for the first time since 2010 when Tulane and Southern Miss face off in the Armed Forces Bowl on Saturday morning in Fort Worth, Texas. Southern Miss and Tulane were charter members of Conference USA, engaging in league play from 1996 until 2013. Prior to their 1999 game, the rivalry was introduced as the "Battle for the Bell," and the Golden Eagles won nine of the past 10 meetings since the bell was added to the game.
The all-time series between the two programs dates back to 1979 with Southern Miss holding a 23-7 overall advantage and victories in the past six games. The good news for Tulane and Southern Miss fans excited about the renewal of the regional rivalry is that it won't be another nine years before they meet. The schools have agreements for four on-campus nonconference games between 2022-27 (2022 and 2026 in New Orleans, 2023 and 2027 in Hattiesburg).
Tulane: This is just the second time in program history that Tulane has played in a bowl game in back-to-back seasons. Playing in bowl games has become the new standard for Tulane football under Willie Fritz, along with fielding one of the nation's top rushing attacks and contending for division and conference crowns in the AAC. The key for this year's bowl game is trying to reverse a late-season slide that saw the Green Wave lose five of their final six games. The most frustrating part of that run was seeing three of those five losses decided by eight points or fewer, making stronger late game play a key not only for the Armed Forces Bowl but for the team going forward in 2020.
Southern Miss: Jay Hopson has led the Golden Eagles to winning seasons in each of his four seasons. He was an assistant coach under former USM coach Jeff Bower for two different stints in the 2000s. The Armed Forces Bowl presents an opportunity for the former Ole Miss defensive back and Mississippi native to log just his second bowl win as a head coach as the program looks to improve to 12-12 all-time in bowl games.
Event: Armed Forces Bowl
Date: Saturday, Jan. 4 | Time: 11:30 a.m. ET
Location: Amon G. Carter Stadium -- Fort Worth, Texas
TV: ESPN | Live stream: WatchESPN.com
Armed Forces Bowl prediction, picks
While Tulane boasts one of the nation's top rushing attacks, the Green Wave might find it trouble to get rolling against a Southern Miss defense that ranks in the top-15 in rushing yards allowed per game and the top-20 in yards per carry allowed. I think that advantage, plus the early start, contributes to a low-scoring game that the Golden Eagles can keep within in the number. Pick: Southern Miss (+7.5)
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