No. 22 Southern Miss achieved bittersweet victory in a 24-17 win over Nevada (7-6) in the Hawaii Bowl earlier this evening. The win marked the end of a 12-2 record for the Golden Eagles, setting a new school record for wins in a season.
It also marked the goodbye for the man who helped USM reach its peak and a Conference USA championship. Larry Fedora stayed on with Southern Miss through the bowl, but will begin his next job at North Carolina effective immediately. Fedora was named the new coach of the Tar Heels earlier this month.
That school-record 12th victory almost didn’t come to fruition, however. The game was tied at 17 midway through the fourth quarter, and the normally high-scoring Golden Eagles struggled to find any consistency moving the ball the whole night.
It could have been a hangover from the dramatic win over then-undefeated Houston in the C-USA championship game, or it could have been the fact that USM knew it was losing its coach. Whatever it was, USM was off its game, and it wasn’t until Austin Davis threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Bolden with just under six minutes to play that USM was able to pull ahead to a touchdown lead for the first time in the second half.