Broncos will play Southern Miss next two seasons

Conference USA opponent will play in Bronco Stadium this fall; ESPN may televise game

Idaho StatesmanFebruary 27, 2007 

Another scheduling mishap in the Mid-American Conference led to another schedule upgrade for the Boise State football team Monday.

The Broncos will play perennial bowl team Southern Miss in September at Bronco Stadium. The Broncos will go to Hattiesburg, Miss., for a game Oct. 4, 2008, to complete the contract.

The two-game series replaces this year's BSU game against a MAC team that had never been determined. Last year, BSU replaced a game at Bowling Green by signing a four-year contract with Utah.

"That ended up being a good outcome," WAC commissioner Karl Benson said of Monday's announcement. "The Southern Miss program has established itself as a regular player."

The game is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 22, but could move to Thursday, Sept. 27, to air on an ESPN network.

That move is dependent on Bowling Green pulling out of its Sept. 29 date with the Broncos. That game, scheduled for Bowling Green, Ohio, has been in jeopardy for weeks.

"We're still trying to finalize the rest of the schedule," BSU athletic director Gene Bleymaier said, "but (the Southern Miss game) may change for TV."

If Bowling Green falls off theschedule for the second consecutive year, the Broncos may play a 12-game schedule. They are eligible to play 13 this year because of an NCAA rule that allows teams that play at Hawaii to play an extra game.

"At this point, you don't have a lot of options," Bleymaier said. "We'll look and see if there's a game out there that works, then we'll consider it. We can live with 12, but I'd prefer 13."

The Broncos' confirmed non-conference games are Thursday, Aug. 30, at home against Weber State; Saturday, Sept. 8, at Washington; Saturday, Sept. 15, at home against Wyoming; and the Southern Miss game.

Their slate of eight WAC games will not be determined until Hawaii finalizes its last two non-conference games. The BSU-Hawaii game would fit well on Thanksgiving weekend in Honolulu, but Hawaii often uses that date to attract Bowl Championship Series-conference schools to the islands.

Bleymaier said it could take two more weeks to finish the schedule. Benson hopes to get it done sooner.

"We're being as patient as we can," Benson said.

The Southern Miss contract started with the MAC giving Boise State a list of teams known to need a game in 2007. The MAC had owed Boise State a game this year as compensation for Bowling Green dropping out of its game with BSU last year.

Bleymaier saw Southern Miss on the list and called athletic director Richard Giannini, who is a longtime friend.

"It's a very attractive matchup," Bleymaier said. "They've got a great program. They've had a great run."

Southern Miss has reached five consecutive bowl games, just like Boise State, and nine bowl games in 10 years. Coach Jeff Bower is 112-77-1 in 16 seasons.

The Golden Eagles were 9-5 last year, including a GMAC Bowl victory over Ohio. They last played at Bronco Stadium in the 1998 Humanitarian Bowl, losing to Idaho 42-35.

This time the Eagles will face the Fiesta Bowl champion Broncos. Southern Miss started just 10 seniors in the GMAC Bowl and should be a Conference USA title contender.

"Boise State is in the same class as we are (a non-BCS conference)," Giannini said. "They had a great year and we're excited about this."

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