Breaking down Southern Miss Football’s 2023 schedule release

Southern Miss officially unveiled its 2023 football schedule Friday, featuring plenty of intriguing matchups slated for the fall. The Golden Eagles already knew which teams they would be facing, but now they know the dates. 

The highlights of the schedule involve two midweek Sun Belt Conference games and three difficult non-conference games. Southern Miss will travel to Louisiana for a Thursday night game Nov. 9, mirroring last year’s game at The Rock. Both the Golden Eagles and Ragin’ Cajuns finished 6-6 last season with Southern Miss defeating Louisiana 39-24 in the 2022 Thursday contest. 

The second of the midweek conference matchups takes place Oct. 17 as Southern Miss takes on South Alabama in an atypical Tuesday night game in Mobile. The Sun Belt has seven midweek games taking place this season, with the Golden Eagles playing in two of them. The South Alabama matchup is one of only two Tuesday games across the conference, with the other being Coastal Carolina at Appalachian State the week before. Kickoff times for USM’s pair of midweek matchups will be announced in May, according to the Sun Belt Conference. Each of the midweek games will be televised on ESPN linear platforms.

Southern Miss kicks off the 2023 campaign against FCS foe Alcorn State, who last played at The Rock in 2019. The two teams have squared off three times with high attendance each time, including a sell-out in 2009’s first matchup between the two.

The aforementioned difficult non-conference schedule starts with a trip to Tallahassee as Southern Miss takes on Florida State. The Golden Eagles and Seminoles last faced off in the 2017 Independence Bowl, with Florida State dominating 42-13. The two squads have matched up 23 times in the past, with Florida State holding a 14-8-1 advantage. Florida State finished 10-3 last season, including winning all six of their remaining games.

The next non-conference foe is Tulane, who Southern Miss knows all too well. Dubbed “The Battle for the Bell,” the rivalry spans back to 1979 with the Golden Eagles holding a 24-10 record against the Green Wave. The Golden Eagles pulled off a shocking upset in New Orleans last season by topping Tulane 27-24 in what turned out to be one of the Green Wave’s only two defeats in a Cotton Bowl-winning season. The Green Wave look to return the favor Week 3 in Hattiesburg.

Charlie Luttrell

The final non-conference matchup will be in Starkville against Mississippi State in the penultimate week of the season. The Bulldogs and Golden Eagles have matched up 32 times with Mississippi State holding a 17-13-2 advantage. The series was dormant for 24 years until the games were renewed in 2014. This will be the first matchup between the two since 2019, where Southern Miss fell 38-15. One advantage for the Golden Eagles will be that they will have two extra days to prepare after playing Louisiana on a Thursday, while Mississippi State will play in the Egg Bowl the ensuing week.

The first Sun Belt Conference game of the season will be at Arkansas State, followed by a home game against Texas State. Homecoming is the week after against Old Dominion. The Golden Eagles will not have a traditional bye week this season, as the Tuesday night game against South Alabama is the week where USM’s typical bye week would be. After the bye, Southern Miss takes on App State on the road before taking on Louisiana-Monroe at home. The final game of the season will be a home matchup against Troy, who won the conference last season.

The Golden Eagles’ opponents held a collective .556 win percentage in 2022 including bowl games. Southern Miss has a favorable home schedule with Troy and Tulane coming to Hattiesburg after each boasting 12-2 ‘22 campaigns. Old Dominion, Texas State and ULM were all multiple games below .500 last season. The road schedule is a little tougher, as the aforementioned Florida State and Mississippi State contests are difficult enough. A long road trip against Appalachian State – who was better than their record suggested – as well as a primetime game in Lafayette. After clinching the first winning season in the Will Hall era, Southern Miss has its work cut out for them in 2023.