Southern Miss (0-9) at SMU (4-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, Nov. 10, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gerald J. Ford Stadium (32,000) -- Dallas, Texas.
Television: Fox Sports. Home Record: USM 0-5, SMU 3-2. Away Record: USM 0-4,
SMU 1-3. Neutral Record: USM 0-0, SMU 0-0. Conference Record: USM 0-5, SMU
3-2. Series Record: Southern Miss leads, 3-0.
GAME NOTES: The Southern Miss Golden Eagles continue to search for their first
win of the season when they head to Gerald J. Ford Stadium for a Conference
USA bout with the SMU Mustangs.
The Golden Eagles dropped to 0-9 overall and 0-5 in league play last week as
they let a 16-0 halftime lead slip away and were defeated, 27-19, by UAB in
Hattiesburg. Southern Miss was expected to have a rebuilding year after
winning the C-USA last season. Its best performance came against the league
leading UCF Knights, which USM managed to take into double overtime before
coming up short. Southern Miss is going to finish under .500 for the first
time in its C-USA history, which dates back to 1996.
SMU is trying to become bowl eligible for a program record fourth season in a
row. The Mustangs need to win two of their last three games for that to
happen. Coach June Jones and his team departed Orlando with a disappointing
42-17 loss to UCF last week. The Knights ended SMU's two-game winning streak
and completely halted the red hot offensive attack.
Southern Miss has history on its side heading into this one. The Golden Eagles
hold a 3-0 edge in their all-time series with SMU. The Mustangs managed just a
field goal in their 27-3 loss to Southern Miss last season.
The cause of the Golden Eagles' lack of success so far is very clear. Southern
Miss is just 10th in scoring offense (19.2 ppg) and total offense (319.6 ypg)
after finishing second in the conference in both categories last season.
Southern Miss has been especially weak through the air, averaging only 147.2
yards per game, which is the worst in the C-USA.
The quarterback situation has been a shifting one for Southern Miss this
season with the lack of production through the air. USM is the only team in
the FBS to start four different QBs this season. Anthony Alford was under
center last week and went 10-of-26 for 112 yards with an interception. The
dual threat freshman also gained 45 yards on the ground and produced his sixth
rushing touchdown of the season. Alford leads the team with 550 passing yards
and six rushing TDs.
With inconsistency at quarterback, Southern Miss' receivers have been unable
to create any chemistry. Tracey Lampley (17 receptions, 261 yards) is the
team's most productive wideout, despite his modest numbers.
Desmond Johnson has been the team's featured back, rushing for 460 yards on 82
carries to lead the conference's fourth best rushing offense. Johnson did not
play last week which gave Jalen Richard a chance to carry the ball nine times
for 82 yards and a score.
The Golden Eagles are not much better on the other side of the ball with
allowed averages of 38.2 points and 431.9 yards per contest, which rank sixth
and 10th in the C-USA, respectively. USM has recorded three takeaways (five
fumble recovers, one interception) over its past two games.
Jamie Collins has been one of the lone bright spots on the team as he has
amassed 73 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and nine sacks. Collins is tied for
first in the conference in sacks and tackles for loss.
Despite having all-conference running back Zach Line healthy this season, SMU
has passed for more than twice as many yards (2,271) as it has run for
(1,066). Line has accounted for nearly all of that production on the ground
with 940 yards and six touchdowns on 194 carries. No other running back has
more than 10 attempts. Line is second in the conference in yards per game
(104.4) and trails only Eric Dickerson in the school's record books with 3,847
career rushing yards.
The Mustangs' passing game is operated by the gun-slinging Garrett Gilbert,
who has thrown for 2,011 yards this season. The former Texas starting QB needs
to quickly hone his suspect decision-making which has led to 12 touchdowns
against 13 interceptions. Gilbert was shut down by UCF last week and finished
16-of-29 for a season-low 133 yards. He did manage to rush for two TDs for the
second straight week in the losing effort.
Gilbert has been able to keep a few of his teammates involved, with four
different receivers plus Line having at least 20 receptions and 250 yards.
Jeremy Johnson leads all receivers in receptions (55), yards (564) and his
tied for touchdown receptions (three). Darius Johnson is the second option
with 48 receptions for 532 yards and three scores. De'Rikk Thompson also has
three touchdown grabs and 319 yards on only 23 catches.
Like this week's foe, SMU has also been victim to large offensive numbers by
the opposition, as teams are racking up 401.2 yards and 28.3 points per game.
What SMU has been able to do very effectively to keep opponents at bay is
force other teams into miscues. After recovering one UCF fumble last week, SMU
has forced 28 turnovers this season, which is tops not only in the conference
but tied for first in the nation. Nine of those turnovers have been cashed in
for defensive TDs, which also is the most in the FBS.
Randall Joyner and Kenneth Acker have each nabbed three interceptions this
season, while Joyner also has a team-best total of 60 total tackles. Taylor
Reed (eight tackles for loss, four sacks) and Margus Hunt (six tackles for
loss, five sacks) have been effective up front as well.
Although Southern Miss is certainly hungry for a win, there is too much
instability on the offensive side of the ball right now. SMU will pound away
with Line and take one step closer to a possible postseason birth.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: SMU 42, Southern Miss 24
11/07 11:17:48 ET
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