GAME PREVIEW: South Alabama at Southern Miss

South Alabama at Southern Miss
When: Thursday, Sept. 3rd 9:00 PM EDT
Where: M.M. Roberts Stadium, Hattiesburg, Miss.
TV/Streaming: CBS Sports Network/Watch CBS Sports Network

Ironically, these two neighoring state schools have never played before this meeting. This will change as these two southern ‘South’ teams will kickoff the first all FBS game of the season. The two schools are seperated by just 90 miles and this non-conference game will give us a feel for how FBS football will look in 2020 amongst the COVID 19 panadamic.

South Alabama is coming off just a two win season in the Sun Belt West Division in 2019 but signs towards the later part of the season with Coach Steve Campbell’s recruits finally seeing the field of a turn around.

Southern Miss is coming off a bowl season that saw the Golden Eagles fall in its last game to Tulane in the Armed Forces Bowl. This years team has 15 starters back and looks poised to make a run at the C-USA West Division crown this year.

South Alabama Jaguars (5th SBC West, 2-10, 1-7 SBC) in 2019

South Alabma is coming off just a two-win season–the worst season since the program’s first FBS year of 2012. The tide though seemed to be going in the right direction towards the end of the 2019 season.

The Jaguars won its last game of last year at home against Arkansas State. And over the last four games, QB Desmond Trotter ignited an offense that finally got the victory in his fourth start.

USA was a very young team and in taking the lumps last year, might be poised for a breakout kind of season this year.

Key Player: QB Desmond Trotter

Troter thrived in producing a 151.8 passer rating in his starts and improved USA’s scoring average from 11.4 points per game over the first seven games against FBS foes to 26 over the last four contests.  He developed a good chemistry with his receivers and will look to build upon that this year. 

Southern Miss Golden Eagles (3rd C-USA West, 7-6, 5-3 C-USA) in 2019

The Golden Eagles come into this game after losing their last three games from last year to Florida Atantic, Western Kentucky and the bowl game to Tulane. Of their seven wins only one win came over a bowl team, UAB.

Southern Miss has captured five-straight winning seasons, including four under Coach Jay Hopson, and 23 over the last 26 campaigns. They set a school record for wins in 2011 with 12–the last C-USA title for USM. The program has been bowl eligible for four-straight years under Hopson and for the fifth consecutive year overall. 

Southern Miss led C-USA after averaging 288 passing yards per game with QB Jack Abraham coming up with a strong season. He had two four-interception games in the second half of the season and the team lost both contests.

The Southern Miss run defense led C-USA and was 14th in the nation, allowing just 112 yards per game with Mississippi State being only team to run for over 200. 

Key Player: QB Jack Abraham

Now in his third year as a starter, Abraham has shown a lot en route to an 80.5 passing grade. His accuracy is much improved over the two prior years, but he still presses when things are not perfect around him. He had three different games with at least three turnover-worthy plays. Those need to be reduced this season for the Golden Eagles to shine this year.

Fearless Prediction:

It is the first game for both teams after the most bizarre offseason. Both teams will likely be rusty and with last year’s turnover count by both teams, we could see a number of turnovers in this game.

This game will feature two quarterbacks at different stages of their careers but should be interesting to see which one comes out on top. Whichever one does will lead his team to the victory in this opener.

Expect Abraham and his top wide outs of Tim Jones and Jaylond Adams to have some big games as I think the running game will not get going for Southern Miss.

With the home fieled and more experienced team overall, I like Southern Miss to win this game by a couple of touchdowns. Southern Miss 31 South Alabama 17

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