Southern Miss (2-4) at North Texas (2-4) (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Apogee Stadium (30,850) — Denton, Texas.
Television: Sinclair. Home Record: USM 2-1, UNT 2-1. Away Record: USM 0-3, UNT
0-3. Neutral Record: USM 0-0, UNT 0-0. Conference Record: USM 0-2, UNT 0-2.
Series Record: Series is tied, 4-4.

GAME NOTES: A pair of teams from Conference USA still in search of their first
league win will square off at Apogee Stadium on Saturday, as the Southern Miss
Golden Eagles tangle with the North Texas Mean Green.

Although Southern Miss is just 2-4 overall, it has already surpassed its win
total from the previous two seasons combined. However, the Golden Eagles still
have plenty of room to improve, as evidenced by losses to Rice (41-23) and
Middle Tennessee (37-31) in their first two league tests.

North Texas is also 0-2 against the rest of the conference, with setbacks
against Louisiana Tech (42-21) and UAB (56-21). The Mean Green have actually
dropped each of their last two contests and are 2-4 overall, with both wins
coming at home.

Last season, the Mean Green rolled to a 55-14 victory over the Golden Eagles
en route to a nine-win campaign. The victory pulled North Texas even with
Southern Miss in the all-time series (4-4).

It has been a real struggle for Southern Miss to put points on the scoreboard
this season, as it is ranks last in the conference in scoring offense (18.8
ppg). With only nine touchdowns in 21 trips to the red zone, it is obvious why
the Golden Eagles have been so impotent when it comes to scoring.

Nick Mullens erupted for his most productive game of the season against Middle
Tennessee and it helped the scoring effort tremendously. Mullens tallied 426
yards and three touchdowns on 36-of-54 passing, although he was intercepted
for the sixth time this year. In all, he has 1,604 yards and eight touchdowns
on 58.2 percent passing, but he had not gone over 300 yards in a single game
before playing the Blue Raiders.

It appears that George Payne has reclaimed the starting job at running back
for the Golden Eagles. After recording only 19 yards while playing in two of
the first three games, Payne has rushed for 164 yards and four touchdowns in
the last three. Ito Smith’s production has suffered, with only 10 of his team-
high 186 yards coming in the last three contests.

Payne has proven to be a solid receiver as well, coming off a three-catch, 51-
yard performance against Middle Tennessee. However, the bulk of the passes
wind up in the hands of Michael Thomas (21 receptions, 294 yards, three TDs),
Casey Martin (32 receptions, 258 yards) and Markese Triplett (21 receptions,
220 yards).

While the points have failed to add up for the Golden Eagles, the opposite
could be said of their foes. Southern Miss is allowing nearly twice as many
points per game as it scores (36.5 ppg), ranking 10th in the league in the
category. It is also next-to-last in the league in total defense (487.2 ypg).

Brian Anderson (51 tackles) leads the team in tackles, while Dasman McCulumn
(31 tackles, 7.0 TFL, 3.5 sacks) has been the only real threat on the pass

Despite scoring only 21 points against UAB, North Texas has been able to put
points up fairly frequently. The Mean Green are sixth in C-USA in scoring
offense (32.2 ppg). However, it should be mentioned that they put up 77 points
against Nicholls to help that average. They are only 10th in the league in
total offense (341.8 ypg), and have scored more than 21 points only twice.

The Mean Green are one of the rare teams that run the ball more than they
throw it, with 250 rushing attempts and only 155 pass plays this season.
Antoinne Jimmerson (328 yards, three TDS), Reggie Pegram (252 yards, three
TDs) and Erick Evans (204 yards, three TDs) give the team plenty of options in
the backfield.

On top of that, quarterback Dajon Williams has the ability to rack up yards on
the ground, with 114 yards and two scores via the rush. As a passer, Williams
has been nothing special, completing 59.2 percent of his pass attempts for 603
yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions. Andrew McNulty has appeared in
four games and completed 53.6 percent of his attempts.

With such uncertainty and a lack of production at the quarterback position,
there has not been tons of work for the North Texas receivers. Carlos Harris
leads the team with 27 receptions, and he has tallied 342 yards and two
touchdowns. Darvin Kidsy (12 receptions, 134 yards) is the only other player
with more than 10 receptions, while Marcus Smith leads the squad with three
touchdown grabs.

North Texas is one of the five-best teams in C-USA in total defense (378.7
ypg), but it is still giving up more than 30 points per game. The squad has
done well in creating pressure, with 21 sacks in six games. Chad Polk (4.5
sacks) leads the way up front, while Derek Akunne (51 tackles) is the only
player on the roster with more than 30 stops.

Neither of these teams is overly impressive when it comes to stopping teams
from scoring. However, the Mean Green have shown much more consistency when it
comes to putting points up themselves. Expect them to ride their powerful
rushing attack to a victory.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Texas 28, Southern Miss 21