Southern Miss-Old Dominion
Start Time: 3:30 PM EST, Saturday, November 21
Location: M. M. Roberts Stadium, Hattiesburg, Mississippi
TV: American Sports Network
Records: Southern Miss: 7-3. Old Dominion: 5-5. This is the first meeting between these two programs.
Live Stats: here.
Line: Southern Miss -21.5. Over/Under 61.
Southern Miss Outlook: Many have tried, but few have been able to slow down the explosive Southern Miss offense this fall.
Nick Mullens is the name to remember on the offensive side of the ball. Mullens is a junior quarterback that has started since midway through his freshman season. All he has done in 2015 is throw for 3,276 yards and 30 touchdowns, while leading Southern Miss to a 7-3 record. The Golden Eagles average an impressive 339.4 yards per game in the air. The passing game is among the most effective and explosive in the nation.
The air attack has multiple options for Mullens with Casey Martin, Mike Thomas, and D.J. Thompson combining for 147 catches and 21 touchdowns on the season. This trio are the target of 60.7% of all Southern Miss pass attempts on the season. Running backs Ito Smith and Jalen Richard love to get involved in the passing game as well with 59 combined catches on the season.
The run game is nearly as successful as the passing game, but tends to be even more explosive. The combination of Jalen Richard and Ito Smith have been nearly unstoppable this fall with 1,575 yards and 11 touchdowns on the season.
Senior Justice Hayes can step in on occasion and help carry the load in the backfield as evidenced by his 4.5 yards per carry average. The Golden Eagles rush for 185.7 yards per game and 5.2 yard per carry.
What was once a liability is now a strength as Southern Miss has been very impressive on defense recently. In the last four games, the defense has only given up 10.75 points per game with many of those points coming with the game already out of reach.
Defensively, the Golden Eagles are highly ranked with a success rate allowed of only 36.6%. Even more impressive is the fact that teams average only 3.89 points per trip inside the 40 versus this defense. Overall, the defense is giving up 346.9 yards of total offense per game.
Players to watch on the Southern Miss defense include: D'Nerius ANtoine, Brian Anderson, and Kalan Reed.
Old Dominion Outlook: For the Monarchs, the goal is to split the final two games of the regular season to become bowl eligible.
The offense is going to look significantly different for the Monarchs as leading rusher Ray Lawry is expected to miss Saturday's game with an injury. Lawry's 1,128 yards rushing on the season accounts for 67.6% of the Old Dominion rushing yards on the season. A player like that is not easily replaced.
The show must go on and Jeremy Cox will get the chance to shine as a feature back in this contest. The freshman has rushed for 259 yards and a touchdown in limited duty, but will carry the majority of the load with fellow freshman Kesean Strong expected to help out as well. Quarterback David Washington has the ability to run and will carry the ball on several occasions in this game.
Washington has been excellent passing the ball in the last two weeks, but that was against the defenses of UTSA and UTEP. Southern Miss will pose a much different challenge. Washington has led the Monarchs after taking over for freshman Shuler Bentley. His 1,159 yards passing, eight touchdown passes, and 59.2% completion rate all lead the team.
When passing, it is all about getting the ball to Zach Pascal. The junior has caught 56 passes for 758 yards and four touchdowns. He is a target on 30.4% of all pass attempts for Old Dominion, but has only caught 58.3% of those passes. Outside of Pascal, Jonathan Duhart and Marques Little are the only other real options for a passing game that averages 212.3 yards per game.
Defensively, the Monarchs have been a complete mess. Teams run the ball to a 187.8 yards per game average and 4.5 yards per carry average. They have given up 20 total passing touchdowns in ten games. Overall, the Monarchs defense gives up 419.9 yards per game of total offense.
Players to watch on the Old Dominion defense include: TJ Ricks, Martez Simpson, and Fellonte Misher.
Prediction: This game has all the markings for a Southern Miss blowout win. Old Dominion has not been competitive versus a quality team in 2015, and I don't expect that to change in this game. Southern Miss 44, Old Dominion 17.