December 24, 2011 was the last time the Golden Eagles won a football game, 24-17. Southern Miss ended the season ranked 21st in BCS. Since that game, Larry Fedora has left the program and a replacement for arguably the second best quarterback statistically, Austin Davis. Last season was a historic one for the Southern Miss program, a streak of 18 winning seasons in a row was snapped. This appears to be a program of streaks as the Eagles have lost 22 consecutive games, which leads the FBS.
In the Golden Eagles’ game against the Florida Atlantic Owls, got out of hand in the first half as the Owls scored 27 unanswered points. The Eagles were not able to score until fourth quarter on a four yard run by quarterback Nick Mullens. Mullens threw for 169 passing yards and two interceptions. The offense struggle to move the ball as they were only able to gain 20 rushing yards on 25 carries.
The Owls on the other hand had no trouble moving the ball on the ground as they had two rushers pass the 100-yard mark and a third rusher was just two yards short. The Mississippi native quarterback Jaquez Johnson had the best rushing game of his short career. The Owls ended the game with a total of 368 total yards, while playing an almost flawless game as the Golden Eagles defense failed to force a turnover.
Time is running out for the Golden Eagles to capture their first win of the season, this week they will be facing Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders. The Blue Raiders enter the game on a three game winning streak, averaging 41 points over the span. In the Blue Raiders last game versus the FIU Panthers, the Blue Raiders blanked the Panthers 48-0. The Blue Raiders offense had a very balanced attack as they gained 556 total yards, 306 passing yards and 249 on the ground.
The Golden Eagles defense has struggled this season to stop the rushing attack of opposing teams. The Eagles defensive line has been struck by the injury bug and forced young, inexperienced guys into the line of fire. The Golden Eagles defense has done well statistically against the pass. That may be a result of teams being ahead and not having to throw the ball throughout the game.
Mullens looks to lead the Golden Eagles offense to its first victory but to do so, he will need to cut down on turnovers and get some help from the running game. The Eagles have rushed for 100 yards as a team only once this season and only has two touchdowns this season as well. The team’s leading rusher senior Kendrick Hardy has 258 yards on 62 carries.
The Eagles defense will need to slow down senior quarterback Logan Kilgore. That can be done by creating pressure in the pocket and hurrying throws. The success starts up front for the defense, they have to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage. Last week versus the Owls, defensive lineman Dasman McCullum spent alot of time in the offense’s backfield as he was able to get 2.5 tackles for loss.
Southern Miss’ chance of winning are slim with the way that the Blue Raiders are firing on all cylinders, but after seeing how closely UAB played them two week ago. The Blue Raiders defeated the Blazers with a late field goal to win, 24-21. UAB gained 356 yards, only 57 of those yards came through the air, the Blazers simply kept the ball away from Blue Raiders offense. If the Golden Eagles can keep the ball of the hands of Logan Kilgore, they have a fighting chance. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 in Hattiesburg and will be shown on CSS.