Bower's Last Go Around

By Adam Caparell - December 22, 2007


Quite unfairly, Jeff Bower takes to the sidelines for his final game as the Southern Miss coach. And ironically it's happening in the same city - Birmingham - that his tenure with the Golden Eagles began back on Dec. 20, 1990.

"I've been on that sideline a lot," Bower said Thursday, in reference to Legion Field where Saturday's game will be played. "I've always enjoyed coming in here and coaching in this stadium. I've probably coached in this stadium, away from home, more than any other stadium."

Bower took over Southern Miss for the All-American Bowl back in 1990. Southern Miss lost 31-27 to North Carolina State that day, but Bower never looked back reeling off 14 straight winning season, 10 bowl games in the last 11 years and over 28 years of service to the university - the last 17 as head coach.

But all his success apparently wasn't enough for the administration's liking and they basically forced Bower to resign in late November. So just how much will the motivation factor play into things when the Golden Eagles knock heads with Cincinnati?

It's probably going to have to play a big role because from all indications Southern Miss looks to be outmatched in this one. The Bearcats are a better than advertised team with a solid defense and an offense that's led by the experienced Ben Mauk at quarterback. Coached by the highly thought of Brian Kelly, the Bearcats are looking to make a few statements.

For starters, the Bearcats are looking to become the first team in program history to finish the year in the Top 25 and they'd love to win 10 games for the first time in over 50 years. And they'd also like to prove that they were more deserving of a better bowl than the Papajohns.com Bowl, having been snubbed by the Sun Bowl.

The Line: -10.5 Cincinnati
O/U: 55

If I Were A Betting Man: Cincinnati and the under. The Bearcats are a more talented team and, quite simply, the better team. They're an underrated defensive team and can easily put points on the board. They hold Damion Fletcher in check and score Kelly his second bowl win in less than a year at Cincinnati.

Bowl Season: 0-2 ATS/0-2 O/U. Still smarting over the Poinsettia Bowl.

As for the day's other two bow games...

New Mexico Bowl - Nevada vs. New Mexico
The Line: -2.5 New Mexico
O/U: 57

If I Were A Betting Man: Nevada and the under. Both teams want to run the ball and with New Mexico's leading rusher Rodney Ferguson suspended for the game due to academic reasons, Nevada should have the easier time moving the ball. New Mexico doesn't really have a particularly explosive offense to begin with so taking out Ferguson is a big, big blow. Plus Colin Kaepernick has played very well for the WolfPack in their final eight games, leading a team that took Hawaii to the brink of defeat.

Las Vegas Bowl - BYU vs. UCLA
The Line: -6 BYU
O/U: 46

If I Were A Betting Man: BYU and the under. You'll see some defense in this one, but there's almost nobody in the country who is picking UCLA, and for good reason. Injuries, unmet expectations, a fired coach. What kind of motivation are the Bruins going to have in this one? They come into this having lost four of their last five games while BYU rides a nine-game winning streak (second longest in the nation). BYU will throw the ball and use Harvey Unga out of the backfield to hand UCLA it's seventh defeat of the season. Only chance for UCLA is to halt the BYU rushing attack. That's what they did in their September matchup with the Cougars, which the Bruins won.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 11:16 AM on December 22, 2007
Comments (2)

Comments

Check that: it's Matt "Mauck" from LSU. No wonder it took so long to find something on him...

lets start by looking at the previous 17 years before Bower was coach. You will find another 14 consecutive winning season streak, from 1981-1989 more wins against top 25 opponents(all of whom are in the BCS conferences now) than bower did his entire tenure with even worse facilities than now. in fact i dont think Bwoer ever beat a top 25 BCS opponent with a winning record since he was head coach. Jeff Bower did not invent southern miss football and USM didnt just start winning when he came on board. I think i just backed that statement up.

yes..7-5 is mediocre and complacent..in a conference that is ranked BELOW 2 1-AA conferences. from 1996-2000 we lost TWO conference games and dominated CUSA, when teams like TCU, louisville, USF and cincy were in the conference. we lost 3 just this year and we didnt play tulsa or houston..instead we lose to a winless rice and memphis. shall i write out the past 6 years before and should southern miss settle for just a "winning season" in the worst conference in america?

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