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Golden Eagles Set to Play Florida State Wednesday in Walk-On's Independence Bowl

Dec. 26, 2017

Press Conference Video

SHREVEPORT, La. - Bowl time has finally arrived for the Southern Miss football team.

The Golden Eagles (8-4) take on Florida State (6-6) from the Atlantic Coast Conference in the 42nd annual Walk-On's Independence Bowl here Wednesday, at 12:30 p.m. The game can be seen on ESPN as well as heard on an affiliate of the Southern Miss IMG Sports Network.

The game marks the 23rd meeting between the schools and first since the 1996 season. The Golden Eagles trail in the series 13-8-1.

Against a talented Seminoles team, the Golden Eagles bring an offense that has averaged 438.3 yards per game this season. Behind 110.2 rushing yards a game from senior Ito Smith, the Golden Eagles bring another strong rushing team into this postseason affair. Smith, who is one of 10 FBS players to ever reach 4,000-yards rushing and 1,000-yards receiving in his career, has rushed for over 1,000 yards for his third season in 2017 with 1,323 yards.

Junior quarterback Kwadra Griggs, who is 5-1 as a starter this season despite missing some time with a hand injury, has led the Golden Eagles to at least 28 points in every start this season. He has thrown for 1,793 yards on 135-of-240 with 15 touchdown passes and only two interceptions.

His biggest target is former high school teammate Korey Roberson, who has caught 72 passes for 1,070 yards and 11 touchdown catches. Senior Allenzae Staggers is next at 43 catches for 469 yards and five touchdown receptions.

On the other side, senior defensive back Tarvarius Moore leads the team in tackles with 73 while freshman Racheem Boothe is next at 70 tackles. Sophomore Paxton Schrimsher and senior Xavier Thigpen pace the squad in tackles for loss with 11 each, while Schrimsher leads the team in sacks with 5.5 and Thigpen is next at 5.0.

FSU is led by freshman running back and Clinton, Miss., native Cam Akers, who has rushed for 930 yards this season. Freshman quarterback James Blackman has thrown for 1,997 yards and 15 touchdowns with 11 interceptions.

Defensively, Matthew Thomas holds the Seminole lead for tackles with 85, including 10 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks.

The Independence Bowl is the third-straight bowl appearance for Southern Miss and 25th overall. FSU is playing in their 36th consecutive bowl contest.

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