Southern Miss., Arkansas St. in New Orleans Bowl
NEW ORLEANS -- Southern Mississippi will take on Arkansas State in the Dec. 20 New Orleans Bowl, which was relocated to Lafayette's Cajun Field because of Hurricane Katrina.
The Golden Eagles are the defending champions of the bowl, after defeating North Texas 31-10 last year.
"This has been a difficult season for our coaching staff and players with all the hurricanes, injuries and other circumstances. I am proud of the players and especially our seniors for stepping up and doing what was necessary to earn the bowl invitation," Southern Mississippi head coach Jeff Bower said.
Sun Belt Conference Champion Arkansas State will be making its first trip to a bowl game as a Division I-A team.
"Playing a very good Southern Miss team proves to be a great opportunity to see where we are and how we've improved through the course of the conference schedule," Arkansas State coach Steve Roberts said.
Billy Ferrante, executive director of the New Orleans Bowl, extended the invitation by telephone to Southern Mississippi Athletic Director Richard Giannini.
"My conversations early on with Giannini confirmed our thinking that the Golden Eagles players and fans would be looking for an opportunity to take advantage of Lafayette's proximity and hospitality, and especially the Bowl's new date, which last year fell during USM's exam schedule," Ferrante said.
Southern Miss had nine players selected All-Conference USA in their 2005 season (6-5), five on the first team, four on the second team and one on the third. Kevis Coley also was named Conference USA's defensive player of the year. The Golden Eagles also had an All-Freshman selection, in tight end Shawn Nelson.
The Golden Eagles and the Indians last met in 1980, with Southern Miss leading the all-time series 6-2.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press