Since becoming a permanent member of the NCAA Division I ranks in the mid-1960s, Southern Miss has played 70 nationally ranked opponents.
Unfortunately for the Golden Eagles, 62 of those games have been played away from the friendly confines of Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg.
That changes Saturday night when undefeated and 15th-rated Boise State visits The Rock for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The CBS College Sports network is scheduled to televise the game
The Broncos (4-0) will be the highest-ranked team to play in Hattiesburg since 2004, when fourth-ranked Cal beat the Golden Eagles 26-16. In 2003, ninth-ranked TCU and 11th-ranked Nebraska visited The Rock.
USM is 1-7 against ranked teams at home — the lone win is over TCU — and 13-56-1 overall against ranked opponents.
“The three nationally ranked teams that created the biggest buzz around here have been Nebraska, TCU and Cal,” said John Cox, director of Sports Broadcasting and voice of the Golden Eagles who has been with Southern Miss for 31 years.
“Nebraska was the one that people talked about the most because it was Nebraska coming to Southern Miss. Nebraska’s program wasn’t as strong as it used to be at that time but it was still Nebraska. It was still considered one of the best football programs in the nation and it was all the folks talked about.”
USM got drubbed 38-14 by the Cornhuskers but fared much better two months later when ninth-ranked TCU arrived in town.