HATTIESBURG, MS - Troy's showing at No. 2 Clemson this weekend may have woken up the country, but Southern Miss was already well aware of the Trojans' talent.
"The type of program, they always have a good team," said Southern Miss senior quarterback Nick Mullens. "No matter where they're at, they always have a good team. I'm sure a very physical D-line and a pretty good secondary that's going to mix up coverages."
"Ultimately, you look at football games as far as effort, play hard," said Southern Miss offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson. "And [Troy] definitely, you know Neal [Brown]'s done a great job of getting kids to play hard."
Dawson has followed Troy head coach Neal Brown most of his career but he's even more familiar with the Trojans offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield.
"Me and [Edenfield] actually went to the same high school," Dawson said. "My dad coached coach Edenfield in high school and he claims that coach Edenfield was the best player to ever play at my high school. It's a little shock to me every time."
Besides their high-powered offenses and athletic defenses, Southern Miss and Troy share in common the zeal to never back down from a challenge, whether it be Kentucky or Clemson. And they're motivated to show those power five schools what they're missing out on.
"Coach Hop preaches that every day," said Southern Miss senior linebacker Elijah Parker. "Southern Miss, we're just the nasty bunch, the hard workers, the mean guys who never got picked and the guys who never give up. And I feel like this will be a great battle because Troy is kind of in that same boat. They didn't get picked by SEC schools."
"A lot of times when you play those ACC or SEC opponents, I think that's something that kind of naturally happens," Hopson said. "We've been a team like that, that's kind of our tradition at Southern Miss."