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Golden Eagles head to Mobile for GMAC

Southern Miss completed its last campus practice Tuesday before heading to Mobile, Ala., to continue preparations for the GMAC Bowl.

The Golden Eagles (8-5) of Conference USA take on Ohio (9-4) of the Mid-American Conference in Sunday’s bowl game.

A reception for the Southern Miss team was planned Tuesday night at the stadium in Mobile.

Southern Miss Head Coach Jeff Bower said his players had returned from the holiday “ready to go and worked hard. Everyone is healthy and ready to go at this time except for Conrad Chanove, who has some kind of stomach illness.”

Bowers said bowl games were a reward for the players.

“The bowl will have all kinds of activities planned for the week,” Bowers said. “The players still need to remember that all the workouts we have left count … and they must keep their focus on the game.

“It comes down to our game on Sunday to get a win for Conference USA,” he said. “Our guys have been talking about that and know what is at stake and the importance of the game.”

Southern Miss was again the state’s best college team this season.

The 8-5 Golden Eagles earned a spot in the GMAC Bowl on Jan. 7 in Mobile, Ala., against Ohio after winning Conference USA’s East Division title.

Southern Miss was led by freshman running back Damion Fletcher. A year ago, the freshman from Biloxi had a fractured senior season thanks to Hurricane Katrina. But after joining the Golden Eagles, he rushed for 1,330 yards and nine touchdowns. His 110.8 yards a game were 11th in the nation.

The Bobcats have had one of their most successful campaigns in recent memory as they posted a 9-4 record in 2006. The team also finished with a school- record 7-1 mark in the Mid-American Conference where it lost to Central Michigan (31-10) in the league title tilt.

Despite that setback, OU still earned its first bowl invite since 1968 and just its third all-time. The Bobcats are in search of their first bowl win, as they lost to West Texas State in the 1962 Sun Bowl and to Richmond in the 1968 Tangerine Bowl.

A victory would also tie a Bobcat record for wins in a season (10-0 in 1960; 10-1 in 1968).