Cincinnati 52

(5-4, 2-3 away)

(21) Southern Miss 24

(5-2, 2-1 home)

3:00 PM ET, November 6, 2004

M. M. Roberts Stadium, Hattiesburg, MS

1 2 3 4 T
CIN 10 7 14 2152
#21USM 0 7 3 1424

Top Performers

Passing: G. Guidugli (CIN) - 308 YDS, 5 TD

Rushing: L. Thomas (USM) - 1 CAR, 79 YDS

Receiving: H. Thomas (CIN) - 7 REC, 168 YDS, 3 TD

Bearcats QB throws school-record 5 TDs

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) -- Gino Guidugli kept throwing touchdowns, Hannibal Thomas kept catching them and Southern Mississippi made history for all the wrong reasons.

Guidugli threw three of his school-record five touchdown passes to Thomas on Saturday to lead Cincinnati to a 52-24 rout of the 21st-ranked Golden Eagles.

Guidugli was 19-of-26 for 308 yards for the Bearcats (5-4, 4-2 Conference USA), who snapped the Golden Eagles' 13-game league winning streak and beat a ranked team for the first time in four years.

"Things are starting to go our way," Guidugli said. "I don't care if we get five (touchdowns) on the ground or in the air, as long as we score."

This wasn't how Southern Miss was supposed to make history. The Golden Eagles were one win from tying their 4-year-old record of 14 straight conference victories.

Instead, the Golden Eagles absorbed their worst conference loss at home since the league formed in 1996.

"It hurts. I've coached a lot of games in there, and I don't know that I can remember one like this," Southern Miss coach Jeff Bower said.

The dagger came on the second play of the second half, when Guidugli found Thomas over the middle for an 80-yard touchdown. It was the Bearcats' longest completion in nearly a decade.

"He's playing better than he has ever played," Bower said of Guidugli.

He also hit Thomas for touchdown passes covering 15 and 47 yards. Thomas finished with 168 yards on seven catches.

"The offensive line is giving me a good pocket to sit in, and the wide receivers are making good plays," Guidugli said.

Cincinnati turned three turnovers into 17 points and never trailed in its third straight victory since an embarrassing turnover-filled loss at Army that snapped the Black Knights' 19-game losing streak.

"We're continuing to build confidence after the last couple of weeks," Cincinnati coach Mark Dantonio said. "This is another confidence builder for us."

It was the first Conference USA defeat for Southern Miss (5-2, 4-1) since a 31-10 loss at Tulane in November 2002. The Golden Eagles also fell behind 14th-ranked Louisville in the league standings.

Cincinnati's last win over a ranked team also came against the Golden Eagles, who were No. 24 in November 2000 when the Bearcats won 27-24. That was the last time Southern Miss was ranked until this season.

The Golden Eagles have lost three straight games as a ranked team, including twice this year. Southern Miss was ranked 24th last month when Alabama routed the Golden Eagles 27-3.

"I'm very humiliated and embarrassed, especially in front of the home crowd," Southern Miss defensive back John Eubanks said. "I looked at the scoreboard and saw 52-24. Four touchdowns. ... I'm ready to come back hard."

Cincinnati took a 10-point lead in the first quarter on two Southern Miss giveaways.

Jeremy Jackson intercepted Dustin Almond's pass and set up a 26-yard field goal by Kevin Lovell. Eubanks fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Anthony Hoke recovered at the Southern Miss 20. Five plays later, Guidugli hit Doug Jones from 8 yards out to make it 10-0.

"No one in the country is good enough to win when you play like that," Bower said.

Guidugli also had a 20-yard touchdown pass to Brent Celek.

Almond struggled in his first game back in the Golden Eagles' lineup. Out for a month with a pulled hamstring, Almond was 12-of-26 for 187 yards and had a 1-yard touchdown run. He was intercepted twice and fumbled once.

"We have yet to play all three phases of a football game," Almond said. "We have to push ourselves past the edge."