ST. PETERSBURG — Southern Miss has an opportunity tonight to do something a Conference USA team hasn't done in nearly a decade: win a bowl game against a team from a BCS automatic-qualifying conference.
The big six conferences are 11-0 against C-USA teams dating to Dec. 27, 2000, when East Carolina beat Texas Tech 40-27 in the Galleryfurniture.com Bowl in Houston.
There's a precedent for Southern Miss against a Big East team. The only other C-USA win against a major conference opponent came in 1997, when the Golden Eagles throttled Pittsburgh 41-7 in the Liberty Bowl.
The Big East has nearly the opposite streak on the line. The conference hasn't lost a bowl game to a non-BCS opponent since it took its eight-team lineup in 2005, going 8-0 in that span. The last time a non-BCS team beat a Big East team in a bowl was after the 2004 season, when Utah beat Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl.
Streaking: While Louisville hasn't been to a bowl since 2006, Southern Miss has a run of nine straight seasons with a bowl appearance, one of 14 such schools in I-A football.
The Golden Eagles are the only team out of the 14 not in one of the six major conferences — Florida and Florida State are in that group.