Start Time: 7:00 pm CST, Saturday, Oct. 3
Location: M.M. Roberts Stadium, aka "The Rock," Hattiesburg, MS
TV: Local Markets/Fox College Sports
Radio: Southern Miss: here. North Texas: here.
Series Record: Southern Miss leads the all-time series 4-3, including a 31-10 victory in the 2004 New Orleans Bowl.
Live Stats: here.
Betting Line: Southern Miss -13.5, O/U 110
North Texas Preview:
We tried being polite last week, and it didn't work. North Texas showed virtually no signs of life against Iowa, submitting in grotesque fashion and trudging home with a 62-16 loss. To their credit, this was an expected loss against a Power Five conference, so as much as we'd love to start calling for someone's head, that time is not now. No, that time is for the fourth quarter against Southern Miss, a team which maintained the success for 50 years that UNT only managed to sustain from 2001-2004.
Iowa or no, QB Andrew McNulty's completion percentage dropped back down below 50%, after barely creeping over against Rice. If we use the Rice game as a high point (the only game in which UNT has been competitive all year), leading rusher Antoinne Jimmerson carried the ball 13 times for a paltry 94 yards, and only one receiver could manage over 70 yards.
As much as I'd love to stick a fork in the 2015 squad-- as damning as 0-3 seems--Southern Miss is just not as good of a team as Rice. They are rebuilding (as are the Mean Green), and have seen progress each year under Todd Monken (as opposed to UNT, who progressed for one year then have been backsliding ever since). If any of the things we've written about UNT are true this season, this is the game in which we will finally see them, as they roll up on a team with whom they're slightly more evenly matched than the Rice Owls.
Alternatively, if North Texas gets blown out, or even fails to cover, then they're going 0-12 and no amount of internet whinging is going to prevent that.
Southern Miss Preview:
When looking at Southern Miss’ offense, expect lots of explosive plays. They are sixth in the nation in IsoPPP, a statistic that measures how explosive an offense is on positive plays. Running the football, the IsoPPP drops slightly to 1.23, but that number is still good for #17 in the nation. Jalen Richard (62/344/4TD) and Ito Smith (36/281/1TD) lead the way on a rushing attack that is averaging 158.0 yards per game on the ground.
Despite not being as efficient as they could be, the Golden Eagles passing attack is also in the top 20 nationally in IsoPPP at 1.78. Junior quarterback Nick Mullens (97-152/1366/10TD) is a main reason for the explosiveness of the passing game. Casey Martin (25/303/4TD) has a catch rate of 86.2% while being targeted on 20.3% of all passes on the season. DJ Thompson (14/231/2TD) and Mike Thomas (11/181/0TD) have not been as lucky with 25 total catches on 47 passes thrown their way. Overall, Southern Miss is averaging 341.5 yards per game in the air.
As bad as Southern Miss has looked on defense in certain games, much of their overall problem is the inability to keep explosive plays from happening. TRush defense is a huge culprit. The Golden Eagles have an excellent success rate versus the running game with the offense only successful on 38.7% of rush attempts. A stuff rate of 24.3% supports that claim. Those statistics go for naught as the rush IsoPPP is 1.62, good for #127 nationally. Versus the pass, Southern Miss is very good at stopping successful plays at 38.7%, the same number as the rush success rate. Opponents are averaging 252.0 yards per game in the air versus the Southern Miss defense.
Players to watch for on the Southern Miss defense include: safety D’Nerius Antoine (25tkl, 3 tfl, 1 INT, 2 ff), Brian Anderson (19 tkl, 3.5 tfl, 0.5 sacks), and Dylan Bradley (16 tkl, 6 tfl, 3 sacks).
I am just cynical enough to where I do not see McCarney turning this around. I don't see a very high scoring game, but Southern Miss winning by 3 touchdowns would not surprise me. As stated above, I'm not ready to pull the plug on this team yet, but a loss this week would certainly be consistent.
The Golden Eagles are playing very good football at this moment, especially on offense. The Mean Green will struggle to stop the passing game from Mullens and company, but will also have to contend with a solid running game. North Texas will move the ball on offense and score some points, but the Golden Eagles will be able to score at a higher rate. Southern Miss 41, North Texas 24.