EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Rachuan Mitchell picked off a Brandon Jones pass and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown to spark Southern Mississippi to a 39-7 win over UTEP Saturday that earned the Golden Eagles bowl eligibility for the fourth straight season and 22nd time in the last 25 years.
The Golden Eagles finished the regular season with back-to-back wins of the first time this season, knocking off Louisiana Tech, 21-20 in their home finale last week.
Briggs Bourgeois connected on two 39-yard field goals in the first half and Steven Anderson punched in from the 1 at the end of the first quarter to send Southern Miss into intermission with a 19-0 advantage. De'Michael Harris pulled in a 17-yard pass from Jack Abraham for a third-quarter touchdown and Tate Whatley and Trivenskey Mosley had scoring runs of 16- and 24-yards, respectively.
Southern Miss (6-5, 5-3 Conference USA) came into the game ranked No. 10 nationally at stopping the run and the Golden Eagles checked UTEP (1-11, 1-7) on just 73 yards on the ground on 31 carries.