With a first half of the overall schedule concluded and the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at either 3-3 or 2-4 depending on how the Texas State game turns out, let's take a look at the second half of the schedule that gets deep into Conference USA play.
UTSA: If Southern Miss is 3-3 at this point in the season, which would include a win over Texas State, this two week stretch could make or break the season. UTSA struggled in 2014 despite having a very experienced team but are the opposite with very little experience on the field. The Roadrunners have benefited from a couple FBS transfers but may be a year from being too competitive. On paper, this should be a game the Golden Eagles control and win but that depends on how UTSA progresses this fall.
Charlotte: The 49ers are going through the dreaded FBS transition year this fall and do not have the same talent as Southern Miss. If Charlotte is able to hang with the Golden Eagles into the second half of the game, there will be a bit of disappointment for the Southern Miss faithful. This blowout win should be a confidence building game for the Golden Eagles and should be win #4 or #5 for the 2015 season.
UTEP: This game should be a much tighter game than the 35-14 loss in 2014 as the Southern Miss defense is projected to be much stronger against the run this fall. If the Golden Eagles can force UTEP to throw the ball, an upset it possible. Beating UTEP seems to but just outside the ability of Southern Miss right now but it is possible.
Rice: The Owls are in a similar position to UTEP as the level below Louisiana Tech in the West division. It is a bit of bad luck to face for UTEP and Rice in back to back weeks and maybe set up for back-to-back losses. Rice is efficient in the air but solid on the ground as well with a fairly balanced offense. It is not out of the realm of possibility for Southern Miss to pull the upset, but it does not seem very likely.
Old Dominion: The Monarchs are a huge question mark after going 6-6 last fall but losing their very talented quarterback to graduation. The key for Southern Miss this season is to get to this game with five wins if they want to have a realistic shot at making a bowl at 6-6. This game is the best chance for Southern Miss to get that sixth win and become bowl eligible with Louisiana Tech on the horizon. Old Dominion could end up being the most important game of the year for Southern Miss.
Louisiana Tech: The Bulldogs surprised everyone with a 9-5 season and West division crown last fall and have the ability to be very good this season as well. If Louisiana Tech is anywhere near their level of play in 2014, this is not a game Southern Miss can win. Anything is possible but this is a very tough matchup.
Overall, 6-6 with a bowl berth or 5-7 and just missing out on a bowl are the two most likely scenarios for the Golden Eagles with the Texas State and Old Dominion games being the biggest games of the season. With the fan base that Southern Miss would bring to the game, I would have to expect that 6-6 would definitely earn a bowl trip this fall.