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Game Preview: Southern Miss vs. Boise State

Allan Bridgford

Allan Bridgford

Sept. 27, 2013

The Last Meeting
Boise State40
Southern Miss14
October 6, 2012
Hattiesburg, Miss.
Southern Miss Drops 40-14 Decision to Boise State
Joe Southwick threw for three touchdowns and Boise State took advantage of five turnovers to breeze past Southern Mississippi 40-14 Saturday.


HATTIESBURG, Miss. - After three tough losses to start the year, the Golden Eagles got a one-week break to recalibrate and prepare for the last of their tough non-conference contests, a Saturday visit to the distant Boise State Broncos of the Mountain West Conference.

The game has a 9:15 p.m. central kickoff and will be nationally televised on ESPNU with Joe Davis and David Diaz-Infante calling the action. John Cox and Vic Purvis will have the call on the Southern Miss IMG Sports Network and local radio stations. This will be the third of 10 televised games for Southern Miss. Live stats will be available at SouthernMiss.com.

Boise State, which lies 2,112 miles north by northwest of Southern Miss, is 2-2.

This will be the fourth all-time meeting of Southern Miss and Boise State. The Golden Eagles have never defeated the Broncos and fell in last year's meeting 40-14. The Broncos began the season with a 38-6 loss to Washington before notching wins of 63-14 over Tennessee-Martin and 42-20 over Air Force. Last Friday, Boise State lost a 41-40 heartbreaker to Fresno State in a nationally-televised game.

Southern Miss, meanwhile, has dropped its first three games - losing 22-15 to Texas State, 56-13 to Nebraska and 24-3 Arkansas - but is still hopeful for a positive result prior to the start of Conference USA play.

The Broncos have amassed 1,912 yards of total offense and are averaging 5.6 yards per play and 478 yards per game.

Quarterback Joe Southwick is the key the Bronco attack. The redshirt senior is just 14 yards short of 1,000 passing yards already and has completed 100-of-139 passes for six touchdowns. His 986 yards are 24th most in the nation.

Matt Miller and Kirby Moore have been Southwick's preferred targets having caught 30 and 25 passes for a combined 476 yards and three touchdowns.

Running back Jay Ajayi is the Broncos' top rusher with 352 yards and seven touchdowns on 75 carries.

The Golden Eagle defense has held opponents to an average of 337.7 yards per game and just 132.3 passing yards per game.

Senior middle linebacker Alan Howze continues to lead the Southern Miss defense with a Conference USA-best 34 total tackles, 2½ for loss. He is coming off a 16-tackle performance versus Arkansas, an effort that matched his career best. Howze's total tackles rank ninth in the nation.

Howze was one of three Golden Eagles with double-digit tackles in that game. Sophomore defensive back DeBarriaus Miller registered 12 tackles and redshirt sophomore linebacker Terrick Wright 10 against the Razorbacks. Miller's 31 total tackles rank fourth in conference and 21st in the nation.

The Southern Miss offense continues to improve each week, particularly in the running game which was highlighted last week by a 94-yard individual effort by sophomore tailback Jalen Richard. Redshirt senior quarterback Allan Bridgford continues to be the Golden Eagles' most potent offensive weapon. In three games, he's completed 66 passes for 732 yards and two touchdowns. He ranks fifth in Conference USA in both passing yards per game (244) and total (675).

Bridgford's top target has been Tyre'oune Holmes, a freshman who ranks third in Conference USA with 7.8 receptions per game having made 24 catches for 173 yards. Boise State's defensive leaders have been Ben Weaver, Tyler Horn, Darian Thompson and Bryan Douglas.

Weaver, a redshirt freshman linebacker, leads the Broncos with 30 tackles. Horn, a junior defensive lineman, is second on the team with 21 tackles.

Thompson and Douglas, both redshirt junior defensive backs, have anchored the Boise State secondary with two interceptions apiece.

On special teams, Southern Miss has been led by redshirt junior place kicker Corey Acosta, whose five field goals are second most in Conference USA.

Following the Boise State game, Southern Miss will return home for its Conference USA opener, an Oct. 5 showdown with FIU.

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