HUNTINGTON - Much like his players, Marshall coach Doc Holliday isn't buying the 0-6 record of Southern Mississippi.
His experiences against the Golden Eagles say otherwise.
Their Conference USA East Division battle last year was hard-fought to the nth degree. The Thundering Herd needed six turnovers, other-worldly coffin-corner punting by Kase Whitehead and a Vinny Curry tackle for safety to pull a 26-20 upset.
It didn't surprise Holliday that Southern Miss rebounded to win the division and C-USA title.
In 2010, Holliday coached his first C-USA league game in Hattiesburg, on a warm night in early October. The 41-16 result could reasonably be considered hazing.
Asked of his impression of Southern Miss' M.M. Roberts Stadium, aka "The Rock," Holliday only offered this response: "I didn't have a whole lot of fond memories of that, because if I remember right we got the [expletive] beat out of us."
OK, so he forgot for a second he was the centerpiece of a major-college coach's press conference, but he can be forgiven. It's tougher to forget what can happen against Southern Miss, and he knows it can happen Saturday when the teams meet again. Kickoff from Hattiesburg is 7 p.m. EDT.
"One thing about Southern Miss, they really haven't been any different all year," Holliday said. "You are seeing the same Southern Miss team from a year ago, athletically, minus that quarterback that was a four-year starter and made a lot of plays for them."
He referred to Austin Davis, who ran for three touchdowns against the Herd in 2010 and hit a Francisco Llanos on a 90-yarder last year.
Davis started all four years and broke Brett Favre's passing and total yardage records, and is backing up Sam Bradford and Kellen Clemens for the St. Louis Rams.
The Eagles' new coaching staff struggled with the new quarterback situation, but appears to be comfortable with Anthony Alford. The true freshman from nearby Petal, Miss., threw for 165 yards and ran for 71 more with two touchdowns in a 38-31 double-overtime loss at Central Florida.