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Game Preview: Southern Miss vs. Florida International

Oct. 4, 2013

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - It's been a full month since Southern Miss last played in front of an M.M. Roberts Stadium crowd. Saturday at 3 p.m., after four weeks featuring three road games and an open date, the Golden Eagles return to The Rock for a Conference USA opening game against league newcomer, FIU.

This will be the first meeting between Southern Miss and FIU in football and the initial Conference USA game for the Panthers. Each squad will look to register its first win in 2013 after both went 0-4 in non-conference play.

While this will be the first meeting between the Golden Eagles and Panthers, FIU head coach Ron Turner coached against Southern Miss twice when he was the front man at Illinois, a program he coached to a Big 10 title and Sugar Bowl appearance in 2001. Southern Miss was victorious in both contests, 24-7 in 1997 and 23-20 in 2002.

Both teams have had their struggles offensively this season. The Panthers have scored 23 points on the year, an average of 5.8 points per game, while the Golden Eagles have scored 38 points, for an average of 9.5 per game, but has shown improvement in both the passing and running games each week.

Golden Eagle quarterback Allan Bridgford has passed for 875 yards and three touchdowns on 84-of-151 passing, hitting top receiver, freshman Tyre'oune Holmes who has made 27 catches for 190 yards.

In the backfield, Kendrick Hardy and Jalen Richard are both averaging more than four yards per carry. Hardy has netted 171 yards on 37 carries (4.6 average), while Richard has 147 yards on 33 carries (4.5 average).

FIU has employed the use of two quarterbacks this year. Jake Medlock has gotten the lion's share of the work and accounted for 303 yards and one touchdown on 30-for-55 passing with one interception but E.J. Hilliard has completed 14-of-22 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown with one interception.

T.J. Lowder is the FIU's most productive receiver with 12 receptions for 169 yards and a touchdown.

Lamarq Caldwell is the Panthers' top running back with 153 yards and one touchdown on 49 carries, an average of 3.1 yards per attempt.

On defense, Golden Eagle safety DeBarriaus Miller has made 35 total tackles and linebacker Terrick Wright has added 24 total tackles for the squad.

FIU's top defensive performer has been Markeith Russell, a redshirt senior linebacker with 27 total tackles. Junior defensive end Giovani Francois has added a pair of sacks.

Following the FIU contest, the Golden Eagles will be idle next week, before traveling to East Carolina on Oct. 19.

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