Southern Miss vs. North Texas prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Golden Eagles and Mean Green on Saturday in Denton, TX.
Southern Miss vs. North Texas Game Preview
When: Saturday, Nov. 19 – 5:30 p.m. ET
Where: Apogee Stadium, Denton, TX
TV Broadcast: N/A
The Golden Eagles (5-5, 3-3 Conference USA) had trouble protecting the football in their last game against Old Dominion, as the Monarchs took advantage of five Southern Miss turnovers to post a 51-35 win.
Meanwhile, the Mean Green (4-5, 2-4) were overwhelmed last week by Western Kentucky in Bowling Green, as Mike White threw for 316 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-7 victory. North Texas accrued just 232 total yards of offense, including a mere 55 in the first half.
When these teams met last year in Hattiesburg, Nick Mullens threw four touchdown passes and ran for a score in a Golden Eagles 49-14 win. Mullens was 27-of-36 passing for 325 yards and no interceptions. Justice Hayes ran for 86 yards and a score, Ito Smith added 84 yards and a touchdown on the ground, and Michael Thomas had seven catches for a career-high 155 yards and three scores. Meanwhile, Jeffrey Wilson ran for a career-high 136 yards on 22 carries for the Mean Green. Wilson is having an outstanding 2016 season, as he has rushed for 833 yards and scored 13 touchdowns while averaging nearly 6.0 yards per carry.
What To Know About Southern Miss
One week after the Golden Eagles suffered a surprising 38-27 home setback to Charlotte, Jay Hopson’s squad lost four fumbles and a threw an interception to thwart its offensive rhythm in a loss to Old Dominion. Keon Howard made his first career start at quarterback, as the freshman rushed for 98 yards and a score and also passed for 230 yards and a touchdown on 12-of-24 passing. The problem was that he accounted for all four lost fumbles, which resulted in four Old Dominion touchdowns. Regular starting quarterback Mullens was dressed and warmed up last week before the game, but 2015’s C-USA offensive player of the year sat out after suffering a concussion the previous week. It is unknown if he will get the nod this week.
What to Know About North Texas
A week after the Mean Green suffered a home loss to Louisiana Tech, Seth Littrell’s squad managed just seven first downs, three third-down conversions and turned the ball over twice in the loss to Western Kentucky. UNT has now dropped three games in a row, so its bowl eligibility is in real jeopardy. While it has been a promising season in Denton considering the Mean Green won only one game last season, a non-conference road win over a good Army squad earlier in the year made the postseason seem like a real possibility. But ups and downs are common for a young team with a new head coach, so this losing streak is not unexpected.
Offense: Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles are averaging 485.4 total yards per game.
Defense: Southern Miss. The Mean Green are allowing opposing offenses to put up 425.6 yards per game.
Special Teams: Southern Miss. Golden Eagles kicker Parker Shaunfield was named a Lou Groza Award semifinalist.
Coaching: Even. Hopson holds the edge in experience, although Littrell was the right hire for the North Texas program.
Intangibles: Even. The Mean Green are at home, while Southern Miss has been playing uncharacteristic, sloppy football as of late.
Matchup To Watch
Howard vs. Himself
Howard showed in his first career start that he can effectively move the football both through the air and on the ground. But losing four fumbles—all of which led to ODU scores—could be scarring. He needs to have a short memory and trust in his talent and surrounding playmakers. This Mean Green defense should not pose too many problems, so Howard could be in for a big day. Of course, this can be a moot point if Mullens gets the start. Mullens lit up this defense last year and did not thrown an interception, so if he is ready to go it will be a long night for the North Texas secondary.
Spread: No Spread (as of post)
Over/Under: No Line (as of post)
Southern Miss vs. North Texas Prediction
Littrell told reporters during his weekly press conference on Tuesday that quarterback Mason Fine is going to be fine after injuring his shoulder last week against WKU. However, his return to the lineup is still up in the air, and his play will be based on his pain tolerance. Graduate transfer Alec Morris came on in relief last week, and I would expect him to get the starting nod for this one. He has thrown five interceptions on just 76 attempts, and that inability to protect the football will doom the Mean Green this week in a Southern Miss victory—no matter who starts for the Golden Eagles at quarterback.
Southern Miss vs. North Texas Score Prediction: Southern Miss 38, North Texas 27