USM faces physical Ram team

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 13, 1999

Southern Miss hopes to close out the century with its fourth bowl victory as the 15th-ranked Golden Eagles face Colorado State in the Liberty Bowl Dec. 31 at 4 p.m.

The Golden Eagles are 3-7 in bowls, having defeated Pittsburgh 41-7 two years ago for the largest point-margin in the history of the bowl.

Colorado State finished 8-3 overall and captured the Big West Conference championship.

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They have a real good football team,&uot; Bower said of the Rams. &uot;They won their last five games in a row and the last three years they have averaged nine wins a season. And they have a tremendous running back in (Kevin) McDougal.&uot;

Bower said the Rams are very balanced on offense.

&uot;They have a good receiver and quarterback and do a good job of moving the football,&uot; he said. &uot;They are real physical. I’m impressed with their offensive line. They do a real good job with their zone blocking scheme. They run a little bit of counter and line up in a lot of different formations. And they’ll run through you or over you.&uot;

Bower is also impressed with Colorado State’s special teams.

&uot;Dalvis Davis leads a punt returns squad that is No. 3 in the nation,&uot; he said. &uot;They have a good punting game and a very solid kicking game. They are an outstanding football team and ended the season with a lot of momentum.&uot;

Southern Miss finished 8-3 overall an 6-0 in Conference USA&160;play, capturing the conference title for the third time in its four-year existence.

&uot;I’m real proud of our players,&uot;&160;Southern Miss head football coach Jeff Bower said at a C-USA teleconference Monday. &uot;We’ve had a good year and played extremely well defensively. I think our defense has pretty much carried us this year. Offensively, we haven’t been able to do enough good things. We have to be able to run the ball against Colorado State. I don’t think we’ve done that as well as we could this year.&uot;

Bower said USM football players are taking exams this week.&160;the Golden Eagles will practice Wednesday through next Tuesday, take off for Christmas before the team reports to Memphis Dec. 26 for four days of practice.

Southern Miss has had eight nine-win seasons and two 10-win campaigns.

&uot;This year’s senior class has been outstanding,&uot; Bower said. &uot;You can attribute our success to their leadership.&uot;