The foundation of college football culture is constructed on small campus towns that swell to ten times their size on gamedays. Locations like Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Norman, Oklahoma attract most of the spotlight. But, more impressive are the dots on the map that are typically less hyped, but emit the same passion and pageantry as universities that are consistent gridiron thoroughbreds. Hattiesburg, Mississippi qualifies as one of these special campuses. Located one hour from both the Louisiana and Alabama borders, the University of Southern Mississippi is an underrated hot spot in college football that deserves more of that spotlight.


Game 315: FIU @ Southern Miss

Neither the Golden Eagles or the Panthers experienced the seasons they had imagined. Southern Miss lost three quarterbacks to injury, and in their most recent game, they rotated four quarterbacks that weren’t even listed at that position on the depth chart. Florida International entered this contest with one win and disgruntled head coach, Butch Davis, coaching in his final game while carrying accusations of a complacent and non-supportive athletic department. The game certainly did not garner national interest, but the passion was palpable as each team filed in to play their final battle of the season.

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The shift from decaying Legion Field to the newly built Protective Stadium has reenergized a program that completely dropped football after 2014, only to have it reinstated two years later after a flurry of protests. The next four seasons saw a program notch two conference titles and build an impressive new stadium in the bustling Uptown district of Birmingham. Gamedays here are building new traditions while integrating everything that makes a college gameday special.

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Game 307: FAU @ UAB

Second time is a charm?
Certainly for UAB, this can be applied accurately.
Last week’s first game in the newly minted Protective Stadium resulted in a Blazer meltdown at the hands of Liberty. This week, the FAU Owls were much more accommodating house guests. UAB notched their first victory at their new home and posted their fourth victory on what looks to be a successful season ahead.

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Florida International University’s football program was born in 2002. Despite its youth, Riccardo Silva Stadium fills with pageantry on gameday. This bowl of bleachers cemented into campus contains all the ingredients necessary for a classic college atmosphere, and the Panther football team is making their roar heard along the college football landscape.


Game 293: Marshall @ FAU

In the postgame press conference, Coach Lane Kiffin remarked that he would refrain from commenting on what he perceived as poor officiating in the game. You could tell he really wanted to. He did speak hyperbolically in mentioning that it took the refs ‘5 hours’ to discuss calls. He said he didn’t think he could get fined for that. In the end, his frustration with the loss robbed the best of him, and he tweeted a photo the next day of referees with blind canes and guide dogs. He was fined $5000.

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Game 282: Middle Tennessee @ #17 Kentucky

Wildcat enthusiasm took a huge hit as dreams of an SEC title game appearance evaporated with losses to Georgia and Tennessee. Kentucky has still produced a record setting season including its first win over Florida in 31 attempts. Senior day descended upon Lexington today with a deceptively tough Middle Tennessee team coming into Kroger Field and records that still needed breaking.

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