CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- THERE ARE 12 undefeated teams in the NCAA's Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, but only three of the 124 teams are winless.
All three are 0-6 and two are from the Mid-American Conference, which should trigger some snickering from Marshall fandom. Those are Massachusetts, which is reclassifying from below, and Eastern Michigan, which is ... Eastern Michigan.
The third 0-6 team won't have Thundering Herd fans laughing: Southern Mississippi. After a 38-31 double-overtime loss Saturday night at Central Florida, you can confidently declare the Golden Eagles the best 0-6 team in America.
And the most shocking. This is a proud program with 18 - that's one-eight - consecutive winning seasons, a streak two years longer than the history of Conference USA. The Eagles are the defending C-USA champions and have appeared in bowls in each of the last 10 years.
But now, this team has won one fewer game than perennial plodders such as Kansas, Akron, Memphis, Kentucky, New Mexico State and, gulp, Tulane. The Eagles are on the brink of attaining bowl ineligibility two weekends before the end of daylight savings time.
Next up: Marshall, which will travel to Hattiesburg, Miss., after a week off to ponder its agonizing 2-4 start. Kickoff time is 7 p.m. Eastern from M.M. Roberts Stadium, with the game airing on CBS Sports Network.
I'm slapping the "must-win" tag on the Herd (2-4, 1-1) for this one - do you really want to be 2-5, 1-2 when UCF comes to Huntington on Oct. 27? You know Southern Miss (0-2 C-USA) wants to avoid a seventh loss, but the Herd should play with equal desperation.
(So how large is that Ohio game looming about now?)
One more log to toss on the fire - when I compile my mythical C-USA rankings on my blog this week, I promise you Southern Miss' final five foes will be ranked below the Herd. In other words, a win over Marshall can spark a season-saving 6-0 run.
Here are a few reasons the Eagles are a little better than that record:
Alford went 14 of 27 for 165 yards and ran for 71 more on 12 carries, with two touchdowns. He did throw two interceptions, though, including the game-ending toss snared by UCF's Kemal Ishmael.
Chris Campbell, who has considerably better efficiency numbers but is not as much a running threat, missed the UCF game with an injury. Ricky Lloyd has started two games, though it appears he is third string for a reason.