Aug 30, 2013
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss starts a new phase of its existence here Saturday night. The Todd Monken era of Southern Miss football begins at 6 p.m. in Carlsle-Faulkner Field at Roberts Stadium when the Golden Eagles play host the Texas State Bobcats.
It will be the season opener for both teams and the first meeting between Southern Miss and Texas State.
While the game will not air on television, Southern Miss fans can hear the live call via the Southern Miss IMG Sports network. The Voice of the Golden Eagles, John Cox, and Vic Purvis will have the call. Live stats also will be available at SouthernMiss.com.
The Golden Eagles are coming off a tough, winless 2012 campaign but have renewed vigor under their first-year and first-time head coach.
Texas State, which represents the Sun Belt Conference, went 4-8 in 2012, its first season in an FBS conference and its second season under coach Dennis Franchione.
While the two programs have not met, Southern Miss does have a history playing against Franchione-coached teams, having twice fallen to Alabama when Frainchione was the head coach of that venerable SEC program.
Saturday's game will be a clash of two teams that have proven apt at winning season openers of late. Southern Miss has won 4-of-6 since 2007 while Texas State has won seven of its last nine. After kickoff, the game will have no shortage of storylines or players worthy of fans' attention, regardless of allegiance.
Perhaps the most notable arc to follow will be that of who will line up under center for the Golden Eagles. The job has come down to a three-man race among Allan Bridgford, Cole Weeks and Nick Mullens.
Bridgford is a senior transfer from Cal, Weeks a junior with some in-game experience at Southern Miss and Mullens a true freshman from Hoover, Ala. In 2012, the Golden Eagles started four quarterbacks.
Another player to watch will be sophomore tailback Jalen Richard. The Alexandria, La., native had a strong showing as a true freshman in 2012, amassing 451 yards and four touchdowns on 87 carries. His yards were second only to Desmond Johnson, a redshirt senior a season ago.
On defense, Southern Miss returns four starters, among them senior Alan Howze who will anchor the Golden Eagles from his middle linebacker position. Howze is the top returning tackler from 2012, a season in which he made 66 stops.
For Texas State, offensive standout Isaiah Battle figures in the Bobcat attack at wide receiver. Battle, was a third-team All-Sun Belt preseason selection and made 26 catches for 428 yards and three touchdowns in 2012.
The Bobcat defense is led by third-year starting cornerback Craig Mager, a junior who was a preseason first-team All-Sun Belt selection following a 2012 campaign in which he made four interceptions and defended 12 passes, fourth-best in the WAC in both categories. He is also riding a streak of 24 consecutive starts.
This will be the only Southern Miss home game of the first month-plus of the season. Following the Texas State game, the Golden Eagles will visit Nebraska (Sept.7), Arkansas (Sept. 14) and Boise State (Sept.28) before returning to The Rock on Oct. 5 for their Conference USA opener against Florida International.
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