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Golden Eagles Play Host to Marshall for Homecoming

Oct. 28, 2016

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - >Marshall has had Southern Miss’ number on the football field over the past half-decade.

But the numbers seem to stack up on the Golden Eagles’ side for Saturday’s homecoming matchup with the Thundering Herd at 6 p.m. at Roberts Stadium. The game can be seen on the American Sports Network or heard on one of the affiliates of the Southern Miss IMG Sports Network.

Marshall has struggled defensively, with opponents averaging 468 yards and 36.1 points a game, both figures ranking 113th among the Football Bowl Subdivision’s 128 members.

Southern Miss (4-3, 2-1 Conference USA) is ranked 19th in total offense at 490.7 yards a game and 29th in scoring offense at 35.9 points a game.

But Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson said the only numbers that will matter will be the ones on scoreboard at the end of the game.

“What happened last week doesn’t have any relevance on what can happen this week,” Hopson said. “We know they’re a talented football team, and they have our respect.

“We know we have to be ready.”

Hopson said he expected senior quarterback Nick Mullens to be fully ready to face the Herd (2-5, 1-2) after an open week for the Golden Eagles.

Mullens injured the thumb on his throwing hand late in the third quarter in Southern Miss’ 55-32 conference loss at Texas-San Antonio on Oct. 8. He played with it wrapped down the stretch against the Roadrunners as well as the following week in a 45-10 loss to Louisiana State on Oct. 15.

“He’s doing great,” Hopson said. “He’s 100 percent…Just watching him throw last week compared to the game of LSU is just night and day.

“He was still throwing the ball decent at LSY, but now he’s really humming it and has his zip back. He’s 100 percent. He’s throwing it well.”

Mullens, who has thrown for 2,035 yards and 16 touchdowns with eight interceptions, saw a streak of 22 games with a touchdown pass snapped by the Tigers in Baton Rouge, La.

LSU limited the Golden Eagles to just 242 yards total offense as Southern Miss dropped back-to-back games for the first time this season.

But Mullens is closing in on Austin Davis’ school records for career touchdown passes (83) and passing yards (10,892). Mullens needs four touchdown passes and 135 yards passing to move to be tied at the top of the charts in both categories.

Junior running back Ito Smith, who has netted 775 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground, stretched a streak of scoring at least one touchdown rushing or receiving to 12 games with a 1-yard run at LSU.

Place-kicker Parker Shaunfield remained perfect on field-goal attempts, knocking through his 11th field goal of the season with a 37-yard attempt at LSU.

Marshall quarterback Chase Litton has completed 62.1 percent of his passes for 1,812 yards and 16 touchdowns with seven interceptions.

But Herd’s running game has struggled, with leading rusher Keion Davis averaging just shy of 60 yards a game, with a net 417 yards and five touchdowns on 102 carries in seven games.

But Southern Miss defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro said the Herd is a different beast when comparing game film to record.

“When you look at them on film, it doesn’t really look like their record,” Pecoraro said. “It looks like they put up a lot of points, and they put up a lot of yards

“I don’t watch both sides (on film), but the side I see, I see a very talented football team.”

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