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Football Heads West for Match Up With UTEP

Michael Thomas
Oct. 31, 2014

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss football team is set for a road trip to El Paso, Texas for a Conference USA game against Western Division foe UTEP on Saturday night at the Sun Bowl.

Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. (CT), Saturday and the game can be heard on one of the affiliates of the Southern Miss IMG Sports Network. Southern Miss at UTEP will be shown on Fox College Sports Central, which is Comcast channel 724 in the Jackson and Hattiesburg areas.

Please note that DirecTV and Dish Network have chosen to not carry the Southern Miss at UTEP game live due to bandwidth constraints. The game will be telecast live on all of the major cable operators that carry FCS and digitally on FOX Sports GO to all authenticated FCS subscribers. Please check your local listings if FCS is available in your area.

The Last Meeting
Southern Miss33
November 17, 2012
Hattiesburg, Miss.
Southern Miss Falls To UTEP, 34-33
Autrey Golden returned a fourth-quarter kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown and the Texas-El Paso defense held when it counted most to propel the Miners past Southern Mississippi 34-33 Saturday night.

Southern Miss enters the game with a 3-5 overall record and a 1-3 mark in Conference USA play, while UTEP boasts a 4-3 record with a 2-1 clip in the league. The Miners enter the game on the heels of back-to-back C-USA wins over Old Dominion (W, 42-35) and UTSA (W, 34-0). The Golden Eagles fell 31-20 to Louisiana Tech last week, but won 30-20 against North Texas in the team's last road game.

This will be the seventh meeting between the two schools in football, dating back to the 1953 season - playing in the 1954 Sun Bowl in El Paso (Jan. 1). The two teams have each won three meetings with Southern Miss having won the last two contests played at the Sun Bowl in El Paso. The first two meetings in the series were in bowl games, with the last four contests taking place as C-USA meetings.

After losing to the Miners 37-14 in the 1954 Sun Bowl, the Golden Eagles captured a 38-18 win in the 1988 Independence Bowl. Since joining C-USA, the Golden Eagles have won both meetings in El Paso, while the Miners have won its two games in Hattiesburg. Southern Miss dropped a 34-33 decision in the last meeting in Hattiesburg on Nov. 17, 2012. The Golden Eagles went for a two-point conversion late in the game down by one point, but did not convert.

This will be the second of three-straight road games to the state of Texas for the Golden Eagles. Southern Miss won its first road contest of the season at North Texas 30-20, on Oct. 18. After UTEP, the Golden Eagles finish the road portion of its schedule on Thursday, Nov. 13, at UTSA. Southern Miss is 42-27 in C-USA games played on the road.

UTEP's defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator Gabe Franklin played under Southern Miss defensive coordinator and linebackers coach David Duggan for the Cologne Centurions in 2007 in NFL Europe.

The Golden Eagles fell to 3-1 this season when they have held their opponents scoreless in the opening period after dropping their game last Saturday to Louisiana Tech. The Golden Eagles surrendered their fewest points in the opening half this season against the Bulldogs, giving up just three points. The Southern Miss defense ranks in the Top 20 nationally (No. 16) in Red Zone Defense at 72.2 percent.

In the last two road games, Southern Miss has posted at least 500 yards of total offense racking up 537 yards against Middle Tennessee and 506 at North Texas. Southern Miss finished the North Texas contest with a season-best 37:11 time of possession. It was the ninth-best game in terms of time of possession since the start of the 1981 season. The Golden Eagles have led in time of possession in each of the last three games and five times overall this season.

Redshirt senior Cole Weeks entered the game on the Golden Eagles' second possession against Louisiana Tech after sophomore quarterback Nick Mullens left with a foot injury. In his first significant playing time, Weeks finished 28-of-45 for 338 yards, a pair of interceptions and his first career touchdown pass - a 16-yard strike to Michael Thomas. Weeks became just the 11th Southern Miss quarterback to throw for over 300 yards in a game and the most ever for a Golden Eagle off the bench. In fact, it is the first time a USM quarterback has thrown for over 300 yards in a reserve role.

With both Thomas and Markese Triplett collecting 100-yard receiving games against Louisiana Tech, it marked the first time Southern Miss had two receivers collect over the century mark on passing yards since Kelvin Bolden (9/132) and Ryan Balentine (7/114) did it against Rice on Oct. 1, 2011.

Junior transfer Casey Martin leads the Golden Eagles in receptions with 44 (5.5 per game) this season and has led or tied for the team lead in grabs in five of eight contests in 2014. Martin's best day as a Golden Eagle came against Middle Tennessee, when he caught eight passes for 70 yards. At North Texas, the junior recorded his first touchdown reception for the Golden Eagles of 19 yards in the third quarter which gave Southern Miss the lead for good in the contest.

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