With a 56-31 win over Old Dominion, the Southern Miss Golden Eagles moved to 8-3 on the season with a matchup versus Louisiana Tech on the horizion. The win over the Monarchs was a much more difficult game than the final scored indicated as Southern Miss trailed 31-21 midway through the third quarter.
A 35-0 run in the last 22 minutes of the game was a sight to see with the offense and defense both coming up big consistently to nearly reach 60 points in this win.
Let's take a look at the good, bad, and ugly of a 56-31 win over Old Dominion.
- 612 Yards of Total Offense: The Golden Eagles offense produced 302 yards in the air and 310 yards on the ground. The offense was humming all night long versus an overmatched Monarchs defense. With his 161 yards on the ground, Jalen Richard broke the 1,000 yard mark on the season. Ito Smith added 125 of his own on the ground. Nick Mullens broke the 3,500 passing yards mark on the season in this game. Casey Martin added a 100 yard receiving game in the dominant offensive performance.
- Responding to Adversity: While moving up and down the field at will, mistakes put the Golden Eagles in a 31-21 hole at the 7:30 mark of the third quarter. From that point on, a explosive offense and shutdown defense led them on a 35-0 run that turned the ten point deficit into a 25 point win.
- Forcing Turnovers: During the 35-0 run that won the game for the Golden Eagles, the defense forced turnovers on back to back drives. Both turnovers, a fumble and an interception, happened on the first play of each drive for Old Dominion. After scoring touchdowns following both turnovers forced, the score was 42-31 in favor of Southern Miss.
- Getting to Louisiana Tech: This game was a bit of a "trap" game for the Golden Eagles with their sights set on playing Louisiana Tech in the season finale with a trip to the CUSA title game on the line. Despite early mistakes, they overcame a ten point deficit and set up one of the biggest game of the Todd Monken era in the regular season finale.
- Failed Drives: In the first half, the offense had ample opportunities to put away Old Dominion before it got too close for comfort. A fumble by Mullens resulted in a defensive touchdown for Old Dominion, an interception ended a drive at the ODU 10-yard line, and a 35-yard missed field goal left Southern Miss trailing 17-14 at the half. That turned what could have been a 17-0 run in favor of Southern Miss into stalemate.
- The Entire First Half. The Golden Eagles had so many opportunities to put away Old Dominion in the first half and cruise to an easy win. Instead, incredibly sloppy play put them in a deficit at the half.
Play of the Game
- Defense Comes Up Big: Just after scoring to make the game 31-28, the Southern Miss defense came up big with Devonta Foster forcing a fumble that Anthony Swain recovered on the ODU 29-yard line. Eight plays later, the Golden Eagles took the lead in route to a 25 point win.
- At Louisiana Tech. Saturday's game is the biggest of the Monken era and will determine what team represents the west in the CUSA title game. A win over the Bulldogs and the unthinkable will happen, Southern Miss will have a shot at the CUSA title.