As kickoff approaches in the battle on which largely hinges his alma mater's conference and postseason fates, SMQ is reminded of a poster he saw at a de facto sports bar during the team's last random, midweek, ignored-by-most confrontation: featuring the criminally underexposed Peyton Manning, the placard boasted (or commanded), "Eat. Drink. Sleep. Breathe. Football." Tuesday night games, certainly, are litmus for the mantra; two of them, for the same team, consecutively, are litmus for near-dementia.
What is this, baseball? Isn't this the problem with baseball? Bombarded as fans are with the eponymous Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, the new Saturday Night Football and the grandiose America's Night of American Football in America, foregoing the Tuesday and Wednesday affairs and opting for high school ball on Fridays is the only sane decision. Regardless of their efforts, every night, after all, can't be Football Night in America, and anyway, Gilmore Girls is on.
And SMQ really wanted to watch the season premiere of Gilmore Girls, okay? Did Lorelai really sleep with Chris? Are she and Luke really done? Is this the first step in the road to reconciliation with Chris - voluntary or involuntary - and therefore bitter victory and vindication for the despised Emily? What of the previously impeccable writing, story arc and dialogue, sans Palladino? These are important dramatic interests, endured for months without relief, and demand satisfaction.
But damn, it's football night...well, somewhere, and it just so happens, two weeks straight, it's South Mississippi. What the hell have we got better to do down here on a Tuesday, anyway? Stuff sausages? If the only way to get on television is to make following the team feel as almost much like a responsibility as a pleasure, only to be regarded elsewhere (if regarded at all) as "mediocre" and "lame," then anonymity, perhaps, is not a wholly terrible fate.
Footbaw? On a Toosdee? It ain't raht.
A Brief History of Southern Miss In the Middle of the Damn Week
Thursday and - jarringly introduced in 2004 - Friday night games excluded
Tuesday, October 16, 2001: Facing highly-touted defending C-USA champion and league favorite Louisville on the road, USM sacked "Heisman candidate" Dave Ragone six times and carried a 14-6 lead into the fourth quarter, where they stuffed a crucial U of Hell fourth-and-inches effort at the Southern Miss 10. On the ensuing first down, Jeff Kelly fumbled the snap, which was recovered by Louisville and immediately converted into the tying touchdown/two points, later compounded by a field goal and another touchdown to make the final 24-14.
Wednesday, October 30, 2002: Undefeated in league play, USM traveled to Fort Worth, allowed 208 yards rushing and nine sacks en route to giving up 13 first half points and 24 in the third quarter, losing 37-7 to TCU and being humiliated in front of a disinterested national audience.
December 14, 2004: In the middle of finals week, Southern Miss dominated Sun Belt champion North Texas 31-10 in something vaguely referred to as the "New Orleans Bowl." Pandemonium ensues.
November 8, 2005: In the midst of a borderline abusive four-game road stretch over 25 days on four different days of the week (Friday, Tuesday, Saturday, Sunday), the Eagles blew a 14-point second half lead and secured overtime only by blocking a chip shot field goal to win by freshman Herd kicker David DeFata at the gun. USM won 27-24 by making a kick following the apparently disabled DeFata's ricochet off the left upright in the OT.
September 26, 2006: Central Florida followed one 85-yard march with a missed field goal and a 44-yard drive by fumbling at the goalline, while also snapping a punt 30 yards over its punter's head and tossing an interception to be returned for an easy score from its own end zone. USM's offense has three effective drives, two ending in scores, and wins 19-14.