The pandemic continues to play havoc with college football — Southern Miss football, in particular.

The Golden Eagles’ scheduled Saturday game with UTEP at El Paso has been postponed indefinitely because of COVID-19 cases within the Southern Miss team.

This makes the second straight week, Southern Miss will not play because of the pandemic. The Oct. 10 Florida Atlantic (FAU) Conference USA game, which was scheduled to be played in Hattiesburg, was also postponed — that one because of COVID-19 issues within the FAU program.

“The health and safety of everyone involved continues to be our guiding force which made the decision to postpone the game the appropriate one,” USM athletic director Jeremy McClain said. “We are disappointed for our student-athletes who will not get a chance to participate for a second straight weekend, however, we will work with UTEP, in conjunction with Conference USA to reschedule this game for later this season.”

Earlier this week, McClain said he hoped the FAU game could be rescheduled at the end of the regular season, currently scheduled to end with a Nov. 27 game at UAB. That FAU-USM game presumably would be played the first weekend in December.

Southern Miss has not played since 41-31 victory over North Texas on Oct. 3 at Denton, Texas. The Eagles’ next scheduled game is against Hugh Freeze-coached Liberty University Oct. 24 at Lynchburg, Va.

In all, Southern Miss has had seven scheduling changes forced by the pandemic for a season that is now seven weeks old.

Nationwide, 32 NCAA Division I games have been postponed or canceled because of the pandemic.

Two Southeastern Conference games, scheduled for Saturday, have been postponed: LSU at Florida, and Vanderbilt at Missouri. Both have been tentatively rescheduled for Dec. 12.

All this football scheduling news comes amid news of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases around the country, including Mississippi.


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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.