HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Including 2017's Walk-On's Independence Bowl, Southern Miss has played in 25 bowl games. Two of the Golden Eagles' more notable outings happened to fall on New Year's Eve.
USM holds a 2-1 record on December 31, most recently falling to Utah in the 2003 Liberty Bowl by a score of 17-0. The Eagles' won the Conference USA title and finished 9-4 that season. Southern Miss spent another New Year's Eve in Memphis when it defeated Colorado State 23-17 in the 1999 Liberty Bowl.
The Golden Eagles' most memorable New Year's Eve performance came in 1997. USM defeated Pittsburgh 41-7 in the '97 Liberty Bowl to cap off a 9-3 season that featured the school's first C-USA championship.
"We wanted to be a competitor, we wanted to be somebody that went in and dominated," said Lee Roberts, USM's quarterback from 1995-98. "Pittsburgh still looks back, I'm sure, and says, 'Southern Miss came in here and whooped us up and down the field.' And again, all phases. We scored offensively, we scored defensively and we scored on special teams. I feel like every person, every player, every teammate that came and prepared, did their part. Our end goal was to be Liberty Bowl champions and that's something that's going to stick out with that team and memories forever."
On the hardwood, Southern Miss has played twice on New Year's Eve. USM guard Neil Watson tied a school record with eight steals in an 89-59 win over William Carey on December 31, 2012.
Although the win was eventually vacated by the NCAA, Watson's record still stands.