One team is winless and has fans talking about firing a first-year head coach, while the other is 4-0 and ranked in the top 20. That hasn't stopped Southern Miss linebacker Dylan Reda from believing his team can beat their old rivals from Louisville.
The renewed rivalry week leading up to Saturday's game between old C-USA foes Louisville and Southern Mississippi hasn't featured any real smack talk between the two sides, but comments made Thursday by Golden Eagle linebacker Dylan Reda might grab the attention of a few folks in red.
"It's a natural rival game, and we should be coming in angry and ready to get our first ‘W' against a team that we know if we play sound football that we can beat," Reda told the Hattiesburg American. "But they're going to be a great challenge."
Reda, who ranks fourth on the USM defense in tackles, said all he's heard about this week has been the old rivalry with the Cardinals.
"Even talking to my dad, and he was like, ‘You know, that was the original rivalry in Conference USA, us and Louisville,'" Reda said. "So, I feel like it's going to be a rivalry game. That's the mentality that everyone's going to have."
Southern Miss once dominated the series with the Cards, winning all but one of their first 12 meetings with U of L in Hatiesburg. The tide has changed in recent years, however, with Louisville winning five straight over the Golden Eagles and two straight in the Magnolia State.
Already controversial first-year head coach Ellis Johnson sees the opportunity to face the Cards as both "great" and "big-time.""
"We own the series, but we haven't beaten them since 1999," Johnson said. "It's a great opportunity and a great challenge, and great rewards come from accomplishing things when you have great challenges.
"There is something here that our team can grab onto if we want to and take advantage of this opportunity. This is a big-time challenge. It's a big-time opportunity. It's what you come to college football and play for."
While the old rivalry has been a hot topic of conversation for longtime fans on both sides this week, Golden Eagle offensive tackle Jason Weaver probably summed up the feelings of most of the players.
"I'm just worried about Saturday," Weaver said. "What happened 20 years ago doesn't matter Saturday."