Southern Miss (0-11) at UAB (2-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 30, 1 p.m. (ET).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Legion Field (72,000) -- Birmingham, Alabama. Television: None. Home Record: USM 0-5, UAB 1-3. Away Record: USM 0-6, UAB 1-6. Neutral Record: USM 0-0, UAB 0-0. Conference Record: USM 0-7, UAB 1-6. Series Record: Southern Miss leads, 9-4.
GAME NOTES: With only one more chance this season to snap the nation's longest losing streak, the Southern Miss Golden Eagles challenge the UAB Blazers in Conference USA action on Saturday afternoon.
Southern Miss has lost 23 straight games, making the first year of Todd Monken's tenure at the school one to forget. The Golden Eagles played their final home game of the season last week against Middle Tennessee, and they were doubled up by the Blue Raiders in a 42-21 final.
UAB's season hasn't been as hopeless as USM's, but Garrick McGee's club has struggled as well, winning only two if its first 11 games, and going 1-6 in conference. The Blazers have lost each of their last five outings, the most recent of which being a 37-34 setback in overtime on Nov. 21 vs. Rice. It was the team's third loss in four home games this season.
In a series that began in 2000, Southern Miss won the first nine games played between the two clubs, but UAB has won the last four.
There really isn't one thing you can point to with regard to the reasoning behind the Golden Eagles' epic struggles, as the team has underperformed in every facet of the game. Scoring just 13 ppg while allowing 43.3 ppg, most games are over shortly after they begin. The rushing attack has been basically non-existent, accounting for a mere 70.3 ypg and only two TDs, instead the unit relies on the arms of Nick Mullens and Allan Bridgford to help move the chains, the duo combining to complete roughly 50 percent of their passes for more than 2,500 yards, 14 TDs and 24 interceptions. Clearly that last stat is way too high, and the Golden Eagles have also lost 12 fumbles. Tyre'oune Holmes leads the receiving corps with 47 catches, but his 354 yards and one score fall behind the effort of Markese Triplett who has 29 grabs for 490 yards and three TDs.
The Southern Miss defense can't seem to get out of its own way, particularly when it comes to stopping the run. Foes take liberties from just about everywhere on the field, churning out 231.8 ypg rushing, scoring a whopping 36 TDs that way. The pass defense (204.1 ypg, 22 TDs) has been a bit more respectable, but there is no sugarcoating just how bad the unit has been for some time now. Terrick Wright and DeBarrius Miller have been active in logging 87 and 85 tackles, respectively, but a glaring lack of impact plays (eight sacks, five INTs) even by them has hurt the team's chances time and time again.
Last week's game against Middle Tennessee was actually knotted at 7-7 after one quarter of play, but the Blue Raiders scored 21 in the second stanza to gain separation and hand USM yet another loss. Mullens went 27-of-47 for 289 yards, three TDs and two picks, hitting Triplett six times for 101 yards. The Golden Eagles got 69 yards on 11 carries from Jalen Richard, but they finished with a collective 82 rushing yards due to the fact that Mullens was sacked a whopping seven times for a loss of 44 yards.
The defense surrendered 418 yards to Middle Tennessee, 246 of which came on the ground as the Blue Raiders averaged 5.5 ypc and scored three rushing TDs. Dylan Bradley was high man for the Golden Eagles with 13 tackles, nine of which were solo efforts.
UAB shares many of the same negative traits as Southern Miss, the team averaging 26.2 ppg while being torched for 42.1 ppg. The offense generates 389.5 ypg, with the run producing 181.1 ypg and the pass another 208.4 ypg. Touchdowns have been almost even (15 rushing, 17 passing), and Darrin Reaves (859 yards, 11 TDs) has been responsible for the bulk of the ones on the ground, while the pass-catching duo of Jamarcus Nelson and Jamari Staples have combined for 10 receiving scores. Jordan Howard lead the team's rushing attack with 867 yards, but has reached the end zone only twice. Both Austin Brown and Jonathan Perry have seen considerable action under center, the duo joining forces to complete 51.9 percent of their passes for 2,292 yards with only eight interceptions.
Foes are chewing up yards and lighting up the scoreboard with reckless abandon, rushing for 232.2 ypg and 32 TDs and throwing for 268 ypg and 27 scores. The Blazers have registered only 16 sacks and 13 turnovers, only six of which have been interceptions. Jake Ganus is far-and-away the most active defender on the UAB roster, logging 88 tackles whereas his closest teammate has only 48. Diaheem Watkins has 4.5 sacks, and Jimmy Jean two picks.
In the recent overtime loss to Rice, the Blazers surrendered 328 yards on the ground, 467 in all, despite pouncing on a pair of fumbles and logging three sacks. Chris Rabb paced the defense with 11 stops, and he was credited with one of the recoveries, as well as one of the sacks.
UAB put forth a lackluster offensive effort, at least with regard to yardage gained (138 rushing, 195 passing), but fought tooth and nail to stay in the game before finally succumbing in overtime. Perry accounted for 255 total yards, running for 60 and throwing for 195, but he was sacked four times for a loss of 30 yards, depleting his rushing total that much more. He accounted for a TD both running and passing, Nelson was his favorite target as he finished with five catches for 127 yards.
The Golden Eagles are sure to put up a fight as they try one last time to end the ridiculously long run of futility, but simply put -- they lack the talent and depth needed to challenge even sub par teams, particularly on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UAB 35, Southern Miss 21
11/27 11:11:44 ET