UW coach Chris Petersen was 4-0 against Southern Miss during his time at Boise State.
The Huskies will play Southern Mississippi for the first time and they’ll play in the venerable Cotton Bowl stadium for the first time when the two teams meet in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Dec. 26.
The matchup, announced Sunday, is a fairly familiar one for second-year Washington coach Chris Petersen and his staff. While at Boise State, Petersen was 4-0 against Southern Miss; two years ago, in his final season in Boise, Petersen’s Broncos beat up Southern Miss to the tune of 60-7.
“Wasn’t much fun, I can tell you that,” Southern Miss coach Todd Monken said, looking back at that 2013 game in Boise. “We got drilled pretty good. We weren’t nearly where we are today. So I owe (Petersen) one. They tried not to run it up, but we just couldn’t get out of our own way.”
The Golden Eagles were 0-12 in 2012. A year later, in Monken’s first season as coach, they were 1-11. It’s been an impressive ascent since then, with Southern Miss finishing 3-9 last year before rocketing to a 9-3 regular-season finish this year, including a Conference USA West division title.
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“Really impressed how he’s built that program,” Petersen said. “We’re looking forward to it. … I do know this, that this is one of the hotter teams, upcoming teams.”
The matchup is an intriguing one: The Huskies (6-6) lead the Pac-12 in scoring defense at 17.8 points per game, and the Golden Eagles (9-4) rank No. 1 in Conference USA in total offense and second in scoring (40.6).
The Golden Eagles lost to Western Kentucky, 45-28, in the Conference USA championship game on Saturday. Monken called the bowl game “a measuring stick” for his program.
“We wanted an opportunity to play a team from a Power Five conference,” he said.
This will be the Huskies’ sixth consecutive bowl appearance. A year ago, UW lost its first bowl game with Petersen as coach, a 30-22 defeat to Oklahoma State in the Cactus Bowl. Petersen has made winning a bowl game a priority this year.
“For us seniors, we want to go out with a bang, go to one last bowl game together,” UW defensive lineman Tani Tupou said. “When we learned we were going (to Dallas), everyone was really excited.”
— The Huskies practiced Sunday and will practice eight or nine more times before the bowl game. “That’ll be plenty,” Petersen said. “Enough to get some fundamental, basic work, get some young guys some work and enough to game-plan and go.”
— UW athletic director Scott Woodward, in a conference call for the bowl game Sunday, addressed for the first time the two-year, $8-million contract extension he awarded to Petersen on Thanksgiving. “We believe in him 100 percent and believe he’s going to take this program where the fans want to be long-term — and that’s back to winning in a big way,” Woodward said.
— Petersen will earn a $75,000 bonus from UW for this bowl appearance.