There are revenge games, there are confidence building games, and there are systematic destruction games. Normally the three do not intersect, but on Saturday in Houston, Southern Miss experienced all three types in a 65-10 win.
This was a beatdown by Southern Miss that made up for an 18-point loss to Rice in 2014. In the game, they proved to everyone nationally that they have to be considered a contender for the CUSA title.
As always, it is time to step back from the game and take a good look at the good, bad, and ugly of the Golden Eagles seventh win of the season.
- Everything Offensive: The offense set a school record with 682 yards of total offense on only 72 plays. That is 9.5 yards per play. Think about that for a minute, Southern Miss nearly averaged a first down on every offensive play they ran versus Rice. The passing game broke 500 yards on the day with seven touchdowns in the air. 10 different players caught a pass in this game.
- Mullens Breaks 3,000: In throwing for 386 yards and five touchdowns versus Rice, Nick Mullens broke the 3,000 yard passing mark on the season. He currently has just over 800 yards more than in his previous season-high of 2,470. With just over 800 yards, Mullens could double his career passing totals in this season.
- Another Special Teams Touchdown: Tyler Sarrazin was again involved in a fake field goal touchdown Saturday. This time he was the passer in hitting Xavier Thigpen for a six-yard touchdown pass. Thigpen has been solid on the defensive line this season and came through with a good catch for the six-yard score.
- Complete Defensive Domination: The Golden Eagles gave up only 214 yards of total offense to Rice in the win. Even more impressive is that 165 of those yards came with the Southern Miss lead at 52-0. Taking away penalty yardage, Rice only moved forward 33 yards in the first half.
- 65 Points: The score was 65-3 with 9:45 left in the game. They could have easily put up another touchdown or two if not for some late sloppy play. It was the second time the Golden Eagles scored over 60 in Todd Monken's reign (62-27 win over UAB in 2013). It was the most dominant win over an FBS opponent since 2008, also versus UAB.
- Other Special Teams Play: If there is a glaring weakness to this team, it is on special teams. One of Rice's two scores on the night came from a fumbled punt by Jalen Richard. The score was 58-0 in favor of Southern Miss at the time, but a fumble like that in a close game could be devastating. Only one of 11 kickoffs was downed for a touchback, but that was contained with Rice only averaging 18.7 yards per kickoff return.
- 65-3: When a game is 65-3 with nearly ten minutes left in the game, it is the definition of ugly. The Golden Eagles completely and utterly decimated the Owls from start to finish in one of the most dominant wins in school history.
Play of the Game
- So many to choose from. If I had to pick one, I would go with the 28-yard touchdown pass to Ito Smith. That touchdown catch got the offense off and running in route to scoring on 11 of their next 12 drives in the blowout win.
- The Golden Eagles host Old Dominion in the final home game of the season. Kickoff is at 2:30 CST in a to facing Louisiana Tech for the division title.