The Houston Cougars had their shot at history if they were able to defeat the Southern Miss. Golden Eagles in the 2011 Conference USA title game, but for the first time all year Houston fell to defeat. Southern Miss came into the game ranked No. 24 in the BCS and No. 25 in total defense and this defense was miles ahead of any other defense that Houston has played all year. Houston came into this game as a two-touchdown favorite, but their own defense could not stop Southern Mississippi's offense.
The first half went back and forth with Southern Miss going up 14-0 early into the second quarter, but Houston made a comeback on a Case Keenum touchdown pass and the other was on a 1-yard run by Michael Hayes. Southern Miss responded quickly with a 69-yard touchdown pass from Austin Davis to Dominique Sullivan to go up 21-14.
Things started to change in the second half when on Houston's first possession they had a punt blocked and returned 11 yards for a touchdown all courtesy of Southern Mississippi's Furious Bradley. Southern Miss scored three touchdowns in the third quarter to Houston's to have a 42-21 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Down 21 heading into the fourth quarter Houston had the offense to get back into the game but their fourth quarter drives but their first two were punts and the third was a Case Keenum interception that was returned 26 yards by Ronnie Thornton for a touchdown. Houston went onto score a garbage time touchdown with only three second left to get to 28 points.
Keenum threw the ball 67 times for 373 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The running attack for Houston was held in check as Southern Mississippi's defense was able to stop the running game. Southern Miss quarterback Austin Davis led the way with four touchdown passes with 279 yards.
The loss not only drops Houston out of a BCS bowl game but they fall down to Beef O'Brady's Bowl were they would face a fifth place Big East team.