Seems odd, really, that Southern Miss and LSU, two schools located in such close proximity, have played football only twice over the years.

But that’s the case.

Rick Cleveland
Rick Cleveland Credit: Melanie Thortis

LSU has won one. USM has won one.

They’ll play for a third time this Saturday night in Baton Rouge and the Tigers, under interim head coach Ed Orgeron, are a huge favorite to take the lead in the series.

LSU won the first-ever meeting 13-0 way back in 1951.

They played again in 1994 and Jeff Bower’s Golden Eagles defeated Curley Hallman’s Tigers 20-18. Bower had formerly served as offensive coordinator under Hallman when the latter was the head coach at USM. In fact, Bower succeeded Hallman as USM’s head coach and went on to a Hall of Fame career.

The USM victory in 1994 was no fluke. The Eagles out-gained the Tigers 432-395 and won on Chris Pierce’s 52-yard field goal with two minutes remaining. Pierce had hit a 32-yard field goal earlier in the quarter to pull USM to within 18-17. LSU missed a 50-yarder at the final horn.

Hallman had been highly successful at USM, largely because of the presence of a quarterback named Brett Favre. He never had a Favre at LSU and never had a winning season.

In fact, it was the USM loss that effectively ended his LSU tenure. Then-LSU athletic director Joe Dean demanded Hallman’s resignation. Hallman refused, and Dean pulled the plug.

Dean did allow Hallman to finish the season and LSU clobbered Arkansas 30-12 in its final game.

There are no future games scheduled between the two. USM is receiving a one-time guarantee of $950,000 for this one.

Read more of Rick Cleveland’s Sports Daily.

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Rick Cleveland, a native of Hattiesburg and resident of Jackson, has been Mississippi Today’s sports columnist since 2016. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s in journalism, Rick has worked for the Monroe (La.) News Star World, Jackson Daily News and Clarion Ledger. He was sports editor of Hattiesburg American, executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. His work as a syndicated columnist and celebrated sports writer has appeared in numerous magazines, periodicals and newspapers.
Rick has been recognized 13 times as Mississippi Sports Writer of the Year, and is recipient of multiple awards and honors for his reporting and writing.