Brian Kelly told those who traveled to Canada for the International Bowl the Bearcats would go South for a bowl after the 2007 season. While Bearcat fans had hoped for a game in Texas or North Carolina, the crazy Big East tie-in system took the Bearcats to Birmingham, Alabama for the PapaJohns.com Bowl and a match-up against Southern Mississippi.
Bearcat fans reacted to the displeasure of going to a lesser bowl by coming in record numbers to watch the Bearcats win their tenth game of the 2007 season and eleventh game of the 2007 calendar year 31-21 over Southern Miss.
The game pitted the hot Bearcats against the Golden Eagles looking to send longtime head coach Jeff Bower out with one last victory.
Quarterback Ben Mauk shrugged off what looked to be the lingering effects of his serious injury from the previous year to keep the Bearcats offensive engine running at full tilt.
Mauk, who would take home game MVP honors for his performance was given the keys to air it out against the Golden Eagles and he found plenty of receivers looking to make catches. For the day Mauk would connect on 30 of 52 attempts for 334 yards and 4 touchdowns. While Mauk would throw three interceptions, the Bearcats always stayed a step ahead using their defense to force Southern Miss to also throw three picks while sacking quarterback Jeremy Young four times.
Terrill Byrd would tally nine total tackles while picking up two sacks and be joined by Adam Hoppel and Anthony Hoke in the sack count with one each.
For the Bearcats it was their third bowl win in the past four seasons and placed them in position to be ranked in the Final Top 25 polls of the year.