2-1 after three weeks and in perfect placement for a run at a bowl game is all the Golden Eagles could ask for. Let's take a look at what we know about the Southern Miss Golden Eagles in defeating Texas State.
This Offense Is For Real: 613 total yards and 56 points. A career-high rushing performance from Jalen Richard (27/230/4TD) in rushing for 230 yards was a huge surprise. The coaching staff had mentioned on several occasions that they felt all three running backs could be considered a starter. A four touchdown game from Nick Mullens (19-27/333/4TD). This was an offensive performance that hearkens back to the glory days of Southern Miss football.
Penalties Were Out Of Control: Early in the game, the Golden Eagles had a chance run away with the game. Penalties were the main reason that did not happen. 15 penalties for 130 yards, five of which gave Texas State first downs cannot happen again. At one point in the game, penalties on back to back plays forced Southern Mississippi into a third and 35, essentially killing a promising drive. Let's hope this plethora of penalties was a blip in the radar, rather than the new norm.
Defense Gets A Reality Check: After an easy game versus Austin Peay, defensive confidence was at a high. All of that confidence came to a screeching halt in route to giving up 591 yards to Texas State. The biggest disappointment was 308 yards given up on the ground for a 7.6 yards per carry average. The 50 points allowed was not ideal either. There are some players on the defensive side of the ball that need to do some soul searching after getting carved up in this game.
Overcoming Tough Situations: A great start to the game brought forth a 21-3 lead and lots of excitement. After that start, Southern Miss gave up 22 straight points to trail 25-21 at the half. This was a huge gut check moment for the entire season with Southern Miss responding by scoring the first two touchdowns and taking a 35-25 lead. Taking the best shot of a solid Bobcats squad and not crumbling is huge moving forward with Nebraska, Marshall, Rice, and Louisiana Tech still on the schedule.
A Bowl Is A Distinct Possibility: Everyone knew that the result of this game would determine the likelihood of the Golden Eagles making a bowl run. Southern Miss passed this test and saw some of their conference foes falter. Expectations may have risen beyond six wins to a possible second place finish in the CUSA West Division. That is getting ahead of ourselves, but the schedule is not overly daunting after a week four trip to Nebraska.