Game Preview: Southern Miss vs. Arkansas
Sept. 13, 2013
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Another week, another tough opponent for Southern Miss. Seven days after traveling to Lincoln for a game against Nebraska, the Golden Eagles football team will visit another quality non-conference opponent this week, an undefeated Arkansas squad.
The contest, the first between the schools in football, will be played in Fayetteville, Ark., at 11:21 a.m., Saturday, and will be broadcast on both the SEC Network (WHLT-TV locally) and Southern Miss IMG Sports radio networks with live stats available at SouthernMiss.com.
This will be Southern Miss football's first game against a Southeastern Conference foe since 2010, when the Golden Eagles dropped a 41-13 decision to South Carolina but it is a continuation of a tradition that at one point saw Southern Miss play at least one SEC opponent per year from 1964-2008.
The Golden Eagles (0-2) look to rebound after dropping games to Texas State and nationally ranked Nebraska to start the year.
Arkansas (2-0) will seek to keep its record unblemished following wins against Louisiana-Lafayette (34-14) and Samford (31-21).
The Arkansas offense poses a sizeable threat to Southern Miss as not only have the Razorbacks scored 30-plus points in both of their previous games but also have a roster that boasts some of the SEC's more prolific weapons. Arkansas, the only team in the SEC to average more than 300 yards rushing per game, have a pair of running backs averaging more than 130 yards on the ground through two weeks.
Freshman running back Allen Collins is tops in the SEC and fourth in the NCAA with 303 total rushing yards (151.5 per game) while sophomore Jonathan Williams has 277 total yards, third best in the SEC and 12th in the nation.
The Razorbacks are not deficient through the air, however, as sophomore quarterback Brandon Allen has accounted for 355 yards and five touchdowns with a 180.3 quarterback efficiency rating. The Golden Eagle defense has allowed an average of 343 yards of total offense per game, 179 rushing and 164 passing.
Sophomore defensive back DeBarriaus Miller leads the team in tackles with 19, followed closely by senior middle linebacker Alan Howze with 18 to go along with 2 ½ tackles for loss. Senior linebacker Dylan Reda has made 11 tackles while sophomore defensive back Kalan Reed has made eight tackles and broken up four passes.
On the opposite side of the ball, the Golden Eagles have been paced by redshirt senior quarterback Allan Bridgford, who has completed 49-of-88 passes for 599 yards and two touchdowns over the first two weeks.
Bridgford's preferred targets this season have been freshman Tyre'oune Holmes and redshirt senior Rickey Bradley. Holmes leads the team in receptions with 20 for 161 yards while Bradley is second on the team in receptions with 10 for a team-high 250 yards and one touchdown.
The Golden Eagle rushing attack has struggled and amassed just 85 net rushing yards on the season. The Arkansas defense will be a tough opponent against which to improve this statistic.
The Razorbacks have allowed 98.5 rushing yards per game, second best in the SEC and 25th in the nation. Arkansas' passing defense also ranks in the Top 5 of the SEC at 154.0 yards per game, for a total yardage allowed average of 252.5 which ranks third among SEC defenses.
Junior linebacker Braylon Mitchell leads the Razorbacks in tackles with 15, followed by junior safety Alan Turner with 12 and senior linebacker Austin Jones with 10.
Following the Arkansas game, Southern Miss will have the first of its two bye weeks next weekend, before finishing its three-game road swing at Boise State, Sept. 28.