Marshall has faced the rest. On Tuesday night, the best comes to Huntington.

Southern Miss has long been synonymous with Conference USA. Sure, Louisville grabbed the headlines last year, and TCU had its moments before then.

But those teams are gone, and the Golden Eagles remain. The preseason pick by many to win its fifth C-USA championship, Southern Miss will visit Marshall (4-4, 3-2 C-USA) for the first time at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“I think if you took a poll across the country and you talked about Conference USA, the one team that is going to come out is Southern Miss,” first-year Marshall coach Mark Snyder said.

Helping Southern Miss retain its standing is stability. Head coach Jeff Bower is now in his 15th season in Hattiesburg, compiling a 100-70-1 record.

Bower was recently named the conference’s Coach of the Decade.

“He’s had a great tenure,” Snyder said.

Bower can give respect as well as he can accept it. He was impressed with Marshall’s performance in a 27-26 win over Tulane Oct. 29.

“They really played well defensively,” Bower said. “Two of Tulane’s touchdowns came on interception returns. Marshall stoned them defensively.”

Also catching Bower’s eye was the Herd’s running game. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw and quarterback Bernie Morris have led the ground attack, especially of late.

Against the Green Wave, Bradshaw and Morris combined for 129 of Marshall’s 134 yards. Before that, Bradshaw had 133 yards in a loss at UTEP.

“They were a running football team in the fourth quarter (against Tulane),” Bower said. “That’s how they wanted it. They lined up and ran it right at them.”

And, just as Snyder is aware of Southern Miss (4-3, 3-1), Bower knows what to expect Tuesday night.

“They are a tough team at home,” he said. “It will be a big game for us, jumping back into Conference USA action (after a non-conference game at N.C. State).

“We know we’ve got to win on the road in this league to win the league. This will be a big one.”

— E-mail:

gfauber@register-herald.com

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