GMAC Bowl Player Profile, History & More
Posted Dec 14, 2006

2007 GMAC Bowl Player Profile, History, Best Games & More

Ohio (9-4) vs. Southern Miss (8-5)

Jan. 7th, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

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GMAC Bowl History
2005 Toledo 45, UTEP 13
2004 Bowling Green 52, Memphis 35
2003 Miami-Ohio 49, Louisville 28
2002 Marshall 38, Louisville 15
2001 Marshall 64, East Carolina 61
2000 Southern Miss 28, TCU 21
1999 TCU 28, East Carolina 14

By Richard Cirminiello

GMAC Bowl Player Profile
LB Gerald McRath, Southern Miss – For the first two years of McRath’s career in Hattiesburg, Golden Eagle coaches could only wonder how good the linebacker was going to be.  Sure, they loved his size, fundamentals and intensity, but, oh, those injuries left his future clouded in mystery.  In 2004, his freshman year, McRath was set to be a key contributor before a shoulder injury prematurely ended his season.  In 2005, he broke his fibula shortly after breaking into the starting lineup.  This past fall, however, McRath was finally healthy for an entire year, confirming the staff’s notion that it had an emerging star on the defensive side of the ball.  He led Southern Miss with 91 tackles, adding eight tackles for loss, but it was his second-half performance that really has those close to the program excited about the future.  Over the last six games of the season, he was a force, racking up an average of 10 tackles per game, while routinely making stops for negative yards.  Bright, outgoing and well-respected by his peers, McRath is the kind of young leader defensive coordinator Jay Hopson hopes to build his unit around for the next two seasons.  At a school that’s produced tackling machines, such as Rod Davis, Michael Boley, Antoine Cash and T.J. Slaughter this decade alone, appears to have located its next really productive linebacker … provided he can continue avoiding the trainer’s table. 

Best Bobcat Bowl Moment – In the long history of Ohio football, the program has been to just two bowl games, losing to West Texas A&M in the 1962 Sun Bowl and Richmond in the 1968 Tangerine Bowl.  In that Tangerine Bowl, the unbeaten MAC champions lit up the scoreboard one last time in 1968, getting a school-record four touchdown passes from Cleve Bryant in a thrilling 45-42 loss to the Spiders. 

Best Golden Eagle Bowl Moment
– TCU entered the 2000 Mobile Alabama Bowl with the nation’s No. 1 defense, top rusher in LaDainian Tomlinson, and a nifty 10-1 record.  The Horned Frogs left the Heart of Dixie with their second blemish.  Southern Miss rallied in the fourth quarter to stun the TCU 28-21 when Jeff Kelly found Kenneth Johnson for the game-winning touchdown with eight ticks left in the game.

Southern MIss's best win ... Southern Miss 31 ... Houston 27
Southern Miss pulled away from Houston in the fourth quarter thanks to a one-yard Jeremy Young touchdown run and a 16-yard scoring pass to Shawn Nelson, but Kevin Kolb made it interesting with fourth quarter strikes from 74 and 13 yards out to Jeron Henry with the final score coming on the last play of the game. USM allowed two short Jackie Battle scoring runs, but held the Cougars to 85 rushing yards. Bobby Weakley started off the scoring for the Golden Eagles with a one-yard run.

Southern Miss's worst performance ... Tulsa 20 ... Southern Miss 6
Cauvey Jackson tore off a 59-yard scoring run early in the first quarter for all the points Tulsa would need thanks to a brilliant performance from the defense. Southern Miss gained 243 yards and turned it over twice while only managing two second-quarter Darren McCaleb field goals. Tulsa was able to put it away for good in the fourth quarter on a seven-yard Paul Smith touchdown run and a two-yard Courtney Tennial dash. Linebackers Nelson Coleman and Nick Bunting combined for 27 tackles for the Golden Hurricane.

Ohio's best win ...
Ohio 35 ... Northern Illinois 23
Ohio cranked out 509 yards of total offense and overcame a 17-7 deficit to go on a 28-6 run over the final 31 minutes of the game for the stunning win. Austen Everson threw three touchdown passes and Kalvin McRae score three times in the second half including a 58-yard scoring play in the third for the game-winner. NIU pulled within five in the fourth on a 14-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Perez, but McRae put it away on a 24-yard dash with 2:31 to play.

Ohio's worst performance ...
Bowling Green 21 ... Ohio 9
Freddie Barnes scored two touchdowns on a four-yard run in the first quarter and a one-yard run in the second, but it was the Bowling Green defense that dominated keeping Ohio to only 54 rushing yards and forcing three takeaways. Ohio got a 32-yard Matt Lasher field goal and a 23-yard Rudy Sylvan touchdown catch but Bowling Green was always able to stay one step ahead offensively, and couldn't handle the Falcon pass rush.

Toledo 45 ... UTEP 13

Bruce Gradkowski threw five touchdown passes to five different receivers, and David Thomas picked off a UTEP screen pass for a 37 yard score in the stunning rout. UTEP stayed alive in the first half on two Regan Schneider field goals and an 18-yard touchdown pass to Johnnie Lee Higgins, but failed to score in the second half. The Rocket outrushed UTEP 164 yards to 63, and Steve Odom returned three kickoffs for 112 yards.
Player of the game: Toledo QB Bruce Gradkowski completed 18 of 30 passes for 298 yards and five touchdowns with two interceptions.
Stat Leaders: UTEP - Passing: Jordan Palmer, 14-33, 163 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Marcus Thomas, 18-71. Receiving: Joe West, 6-88
Toledo - Passing: Bruce Gradkowski, 18-30, 298 yds, 5 TD, 2 INT
Trinity Dawson, 24-124. Receiving: Steve Odom, 5-97, 1 TD

Ohio Bowl History (0-2)
1968 Tangerine Richmond 49, Ohio 42
1962 Sun West Texas A&M 15, Ohio 14
Southern Miss Bowl History (7-9)
2005 New Orleans Southern Miss 31, Arkansas State 19
2004 New Orleans Southern 31, North Texas 10
2003 Liberty Utah 17, Southern Miss 0
2002 Houston Oklahoma St. 33, Southern Miss 23
2000 GMAC Southern Miss 28, TCU 21
1999 Liberty Southern Miss 23, Colorado State 17
1998 Humanitarian Idaho 42, Southern Miss 35
1997 Liberty Southern Miss 41, Pittsburgh 7
1990 All-American North Carolina 31, Southern Miss 27
1988 Independence Southern Miss 38, UTEP 18
1981 Tangerine Missouri 19, Southern Miss 17
1980 Independence Southern Miss 16, McNeese State 14
1958 Tangerine East Texas State 10, Southern Miss 9
1957 Tangerine West Texas State 20, Miss Southern 13
1954 Sun UTEP 37, Southern Miss 14
1953 Sun Pacific 26, Southern Miss