Game Preview: Southern Miss vs. North Texas
Saturday, October 26 | 6:00 p.m. CT | TV: FCS | Hattiesburg, Miss. | M.M. Roberts Stadium (36,232)
This will be the eighth meeting between Southern Miss (0-6, 0-2 Conference USA) and the Mean Green (4-3, 2-1 Conference USA) but the first time the two have played with Conference USA standings at stake, North Texas having joined C-USA this year.
The last time these two squads met was the 2004 New Orleans bowl. Southern Miss came away with a 31-10 victory in that game.
The Golden Eagles have won the last three meetings in the series and is 2-1 in games played in Hattiesburg.
Southern Miss is 56-20 in Homecoming games and have scored at least 28 points in 13 of its last 16 Homecomings.
Extending this streak could prove a challenge. The Golden Eagles are banged up - eight players listed as starters in the preseason have missed at least one game this year - and among the youngest teams in the nation.
Of the 74 Golden Eagles that have seen action this year, 38 (51.4 percent) are listed as redshirt sophomores or younger and 14 of those players are true freshmen.
Through six games, Southern Miss has had six true freshmen start in at least one game including wide receivers Tyre'oune Holmes, James Cox and Marquise Ricard. Also included are offensive lineman Cameron Tom, linebacker C.J. Perry and defensive back Kelsey Douglas.
That group will grow to seven on Saturday when true freshman Nick Mullens receives his first career start. Mullens has appeared in three games this season and completed 12-of-23 passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions.
Holmes remains the Golden Eagles' top receiver having made 32 catches for 224 yards.
North Texas enters the game on the heels of a 28-13 win over Louisiana Tech. Southern Miss was defeated by East Carolina, 55-14.
The Mean Green is averaging 28 points and 400 yards per game but have committed 19 turnovers. The Southern Miss defense has forced at least one turnover in every game this season, and one in each of the last seven games dating back to last season.
North Texas quarterback Derek Thompson has completed 152-of-224 passes for 1,680 yards and nine touchdowns with eight interceptions.
Darnell Smith has been Thompson's favorite target, having caught 45 passes for 510 yards and three touchdowns.
The Mean Green running attack features a pair of solid tailback in Brandin Byrd and Reggie Pegram. The duo has combined for 660 yards and eight touchdowns.
North Texas' top defensive player is linebacker Zach Orr with 73 tackles, 33 solo, to go with 5.5 tackles for loss, one sack, three forced fumbles, three quarterback hurries, two passes defended and two passes broken up.