Southern Miss vs. UTSA prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Golden Eagles and Roadrunners on Saturday in San Antonio, TX.
Southern Miss vs. UTSA Game Preview
When: Saturday, Oct. 8 – Noon ET
Where: Alamodome, San Antonio, TX
TV Broadcast: N/A
Nick Mullens threw for 591 yards and four touchdowns to help the Golden Eagles (4-1, 2-0 Conference USA) set a school record with 697 yards of total offense in a 44-28 win over Rice last week. They actually had set their previous school record for total offense of 682 yards against the Owls in a meeting last November. In the process, Mullens broke Austin Davis’ previous school record of 461 passing yards in a game he set against the Owls in October 2008. Obviously, Southern Miss has Rice’s number.
Meanwhile, the Roadrunners (1-3, 0-1 Conference USA) are coming off of a bye week. The last time we saw UTSA, it fell 33-19 to Old Dominion in the Conference USA opener for both teams. Jarveon Williams rushed for 93 yards, but quarterback Dalton Sturm was held to 103 passing yards and was sacked for minus-34 yards on the ground.
When these teams met last season, Jalen Richard and Ito Smith both rushed for over 100 yards, and DJ Thompson and Michael Thomas went over 100 receiving in a Southern Miss 32-10 win. The Golden Eagles outgained UTSA 556-205 in the contest.
What To Know About Southern Miss
Golden Eagles offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson has to be giddy that he inherited such a prolific passer in Mullens, who connected with Allenzae Staggers six times for 292 yards and touchdowns of 75, 81 and 93 yards last week against Rice. The Southern Miss offense is capable of scoring points in bunches, but the defense cannot be overlooked. First-year coordinator Tony Pecoraro is overseeing a unit that ranks No. 11 in the FBS in total defense (272.6 yards per game). The Golden Eagles may actually end up with better numbers than last season’s unit, which ranked No. 1 in C-USA. Third-down defense has been especially very good for Jay Hopson’s team. The Golden Eagles are allowing opponents to convert on just 11-of-63 third-down opportunities this season.
What to Know About UTSA
Texas-San Antonio is averaging 337 yards per game and scoring just 21.8 points per contest, so the Roadrunners may have trouble moving the football against the stingy Southern Miss defense. However, we have seen flashes of Sturm’s upside, especially in the close contest against Arizona State. He just needs to be more consistent, but the dual-threat can pose problems for opposing defenses. First-year head coach Frank Wilson, by the way, was an assistant at Southern Miss under Larry Fedora in 2008.
Offense: Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles have enough talented skill-position players on offense to move the football even against good defenses.
Defense: Southern Miss. Only Michigan’s 15.4 percent coversion rate is better than the Golden Eagles’ percentage on third-down defense.
Special Teams: Southern Miss. Parker Shaunfield remains perfect on field goals and extra points this year. The strong-legged kicker is 5-of-5 on attempts between 40 and 49 yards.
Coaching: Southern Miss. Hopson has the Golden Eagles as C-USA contenders in his first year on the job.
Intangibles: Southern Miss. Outside of a road test at LSU, the Golden Eagles have a chance to run the table.
Matchup To Watch
Mullens vs. Now-healthy UTSA defense
The Golden Eagles just put up nearly 700 yards of total offense against Rice, so the Roadrunners know what they are going up against. UTSA junior free safety Nate Gaines told local reporters that his defense won’t be intimidated by USM’s potent offensive attack, which ranks No. 11 nationally in total offense. The good news for Wilson’s team is that the group of players that were injured in the loss at Old Dominion should be back in the lineup following the bye. Still, it will be a tough task facing this high-powered offense. While UTSA ranks second in the conference behind USM in passing defense, allowing 180.3 yards per game, the Roadrunners need to force Mullens into making mistakes.
Spread: Southern Miss -14.5
Southern Miss vs. UTSA Prediction
The Roadrunners won’t be able to win a shootout with Southern Miss, so they need to be stingy on defense. Mullens will give the ball away once or twice, because he has a propensity to throw a pick. But the Golden Eagles’ aerial attack will be too tough to contain for a full four quarters. Two big plays in the second half are the difference as USM moves to 3-0 in league play.
Southern Miss vs. UTSA Score Prediction: Southern Miss 34, UTSA 20