Team preview: Southern Mississippi

Editor's Note: ESPN Insider has teamed with Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook to provide a comprehensive look at all 119 Division I-A teams. To order the complete 2005 edition of Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook, visit www.blueribbonyearbook.com or call 1-866-805-BALL (2255).

(All information as of July 1, 2005)


It's almost a tribute to what Jeff Bower accomplished in his first 13 years at Southern Miss that anybody could find last season disappointing.

The Golden Eagles won seven games, finished tied for second in Conference USA and beat North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl. That's not bad ... but not quite good enough,

"The expectation levels for us are high every year," Bower said. "I expect to win. Our coaches expect to win. Our fans expect to win. But that's getting tougher and tougher to do."

Bower had just one winning season in his first three years in Hattiesburg, but once he got his program up and running, he's turned in 11 straight winning seasons with four Conference USA championships and seven bowl trips in the last eight years. Last season started off like a vintage year with five wins in six games, including a victory at Nebraska. But a three-game losing streak at mid-season -- all to C-USA foes -- left a bitter taste in Bower's mouth.