The Southern Miss Golden Eagles (0-8) will be traveling to Ruston, La., to face the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (3-5) in a Conference USA showdown. The Eagles will be looking for their first conference win, while the Bulldogs are going for their third. The Golden Eagles will head into Ruston with the nation’s longest losing streak in the FBS.
The Golden Eagles are looking to rebound after a demoralizing loss to the Marshall Thundering Herd. Versus the Herd, the Eagles allowed 636 total yards along with 61 points. True freshman quarterback Nick Mullens also made his second career start against Marshall. Mullens was 24 for 48 with 323 passing yards and a touchdown. Mullens showed strides in the right direction as he completed an 81-yard touchdown pass to slot receiver Markese Triplett. Last week, the running game struggled to be consistent, which forced the Eagles to become a more pass heavy team.
The Southern Miss offense has improved with Mullens under center. Even though they are only averaging 12.8 points per game and 299 total yards per game. Numbers and stats do not lie, the Eagles is near the bottom of C-USA in most statistical categories. Numbers and stats do mislead, the offense has scored slightly more points since Mullens has become the starter.
The Eagles defense was able to force turnovers against Marshall’s high octane offense. The defense is allowing 44.8 points per game and a little more than 442 yards per game. Their points allowance is the third highest in the nation. The Thundering Herd was the fifth team to score 55 or more and the second to score 60 or more against the young defense.
The Bulldogs are not doing so well this season either, as their offense is only scoring a little more than 19 points per game, gaining 383 total yards. Contrary to the Golden Eagles, the Bulldogs have a reliable kicker who set the school record with five field goals in a game this season.
Against FIU, the Bulldogs gained 333 yards against the conference’s worst team defensively. One of the things that have gone right for Louisiana Tech this season, is running back Kenneth Dixon’s running ability. Dixon gained 119 yards on 23 attempts against FIU. While quarterback Ryan Higgins threw for 192 yards and three interceptions. Higgins has completed over 60 percent of his throws for 1,311 yards with four touchdowns. Where Higgins has hurt the Bulldogs most is with his eight interceptions. Dixon is averaging 87 yards per game and has three touchdowns.
The Bulldogs have performed well as of late on the defensive side of the ball. They have allowed 24.5 points per game and 389 yards a game. The defensive front seven has been able to get after the quarterback this season tallying 21 sacks. Linebacker Daniel Cobb is the guy to watch as has 62 tackles and nine of which have been for a loss.
If the Golden Eagles intend to win, the running game will need to make the three and forty-two minute trip to Ruston. Mullens is far too young to carry this team alone. He needs the help of his defense, who has a knack for forcing fumbles. The Golden Eagles win if they are able to protect and keep quarterback Nick Mullens upright. Luckily for Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech is not as good as last season’s 9-3 team. The game will be on the CBS Sports Network and kick-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. central time.