Golden Eagles set sights on BCS game - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Golden Eagles set sights on BCS game

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -

At Southern Miss Media Day on Saturday, much of the discussion revolved around who will take over under center (or in this case, in the shotgun) this season. But as it often does with any football team, the subject of expectations came up, and many didn't shy away from using the letters B-C-S.

"We're not going to settle for anything less," said senior center Austin Quattrochi, "People are talking about BCS bowl. That's one of our goals this year."

Seems like a lofty goal considering the team has to replace record-setting quarterback Austin Davis, the team's top two receivers, and a host of defensive play-makers including Cordero Law, Terrance Pope and Marquese Wheaton. Nevertheless, the team figures after last season, if you can't lower your standards, you may as well raise them.

"We accomplished a lot of goals, but we never made it to the BCS games," says senior defensive end Jamie Collins, "So we're going to try and reach that goal and shock the world."

It's hard for any fan of the Black and Gold to forget about last year's missed opportunity on a frigid night in Birmingham. After climbing to a number 22 national ranking, Southern Miss fell 34-31 to a UAB team sporting a 2-8 overall and a 2-5 conference record. If the team had won, and assuming the rest of the season played out as it did, the Golden Eagles' 12-1 regular season record most likely would have been good enough to catapult them to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.

Both Collins and Quattrochi referred to a BCS bid as a goal, but Ellis Johnson doesn't look at it that way.  "I'm not a big goals guy," said the first-year Southern Miss head man, "I don't put a number of goals up that a football team has to reach.

"I've been a part of programs that have done that before, you get to the third ball game and half the goals are gone. So then what do you talk about in team meetings?"

Instead, Johnson looks at it as his team is in an automatic qualifying conference, the BCS is there, and they may as well reach for it. "We play in the NCAA, and the BCS bowls are the biggest bowls," he said, "So, it's natural to me that you talk about wanting to play in them."

High expectations, low expectations, BCS bowl or no bowl...first thing's first. "We need to win Conference USA," said Johnson.

"We need to go to bowl games, and if we can do that on a consistent basis, then we're successful."

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