Sports

Texas State vs Southern Miss: Preview

todaySeptember 19, 2015 1

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by Logan Harris
Sports Reporter

texas state football
Illustration by Jasmine Flores

The Texas State Bobcats (1-1) are set to host the Southern Miss Golden Eagles (1-1), in what will be Texas State’s first ever ‘white-out’ game. The Bobcats will be sporting some brand new all-white uniforms and encouraging fans to wear their white Texas State shirts to the game Saturday night.

Both teams will be coming into this game coming off similar starts to the 2015 season. Each of the two teams fell victim to being a powerhouse’s ‘tune-up’ game in week 1, where the Bobcats fell to the Florida State Seminoles (59-16), while the Golden Eagles surprisingly hung with the Mississippi State Bulldogs (34-16). Then both teams had a little ‘tune-up’ game of their own last week, when they both easily beat up on their unmatched FCS opponent.

Texas State is coming off a 63-24 victory over Prairie View A&M, while Southern Miss will be looking to build off a 52-6 win over Austin Peay.

From the outside looking in, it’d probably be safe to say that this is the first evenly matched game on each of these team’s respective schedule. Texas State will come into the game as a 3-point favorite.

Southern Miss has been around for a while and has had some very successful seasons in their history, but haven’t fared well in their last few seasons, especially considering the fan’s expectations up there in Hattiesburg.

After a greatly successful season in 2011 where the Golden Eagles were able to win 12 games, including a Hawaii Bowl Game victory, it has been nothing but downhill. Since that bowl game win over Nevada in 2011, the Eagles have only been able to compile 5 total victories, including their dominate victory over FCS’ Austin Peay last week.

Things are starting to look up a little bit for Southern Miss though. They managed to win 3 games last year, which is the most they’ve won in a season since 2011. Nothing to write home about, but it is something they can build off of in 2015.

While Southern Miss has been trending in one direction since 2011, Texas State has been trending in the opposite direction. The Bobcats were introduced to the FBS back in 2012 and went 4-8 in their first season playing with the big boys. Since however, Texas State has been opening some eyes and grabbing some attention with back-to-back bowl eligible seasons, in which they won 6 and 7 games, respectively.

Southern Miss has been referred to as a ‘sleeping giant’ here around San Marcos, as Texas State fans aren’t sleeping on the Golden Eagles. Though Texas State has been the more impressive team the last couple years, Southern Miss has history on their side.

Key matchups:

Texas State’s Offense vs. Southern Miss’ Defense:

Pretty broad matchup here, and I will dive into some more specific positional matchups, but this could turn into a ‘strength vs strength, weakness vs weakness’ matchup. Southern Miss would like this to be an ugly, fight-for-every-yard-type game, while Texas State will be looking to put some points on the board. I wouldn’t exactly say the Bobcats want this to be shootout, because that’s not their strong suit, but they are better suited for a shootout than the Golden Eagles are.

Texas State was pretty balanced last year, but with some key defenders departing, and just about the whole offense returning, it’s clear their offense is a bit ahead of their defense right now. I would say the opposite for Southern Miss, as their defense has been their calling card for a while now.

Texas State’s O-line vs. Southern Miss’ D-line:

One of, if not the biggest strength of Texas State’s roster has to be the offensive line, which features 4 returners from last season. Southern Miss has some big boys on their defensive line that will need to disrupt Texas State’s offensive flow. Whoever wins the battle at the line, could very well win the game.

Left Tackle, Adrian Bellard is responsible for Tyler Jones’ backside, so it will be key for him to keep the Quarterback up-right. Bellard will likely be faced with the challenge of stopping Southern Miss’ top pass rusher, Defensive Lineman, Dylan Bradley. Bradley had a sack in each of the 2 games this season, and will look to keep that trend going.

Nick Mullins vs. Texas State’s Secondary:

Nick Mullins, though he has some impressive numbers thus far (294 PassYPG, 4 TD’s and a 62% completion rate), has shown a tendency to be a little careless with the ball as he’s thrown 3 interceptions already. Texas State’s secondary has yet to force an interception this season, so something has to give in this matchup.

Texas State’s secondary was a major strength last year, but has been unimpressive here in the early going. They lost cornerback, Craig Mager, to the NFL in the offseason, and even though David Mims has done a great job sliding into that no.1 CB slot, the secondary has continued to give up big plays.

You know Mim’s side of the field will be, for the most part, off limits to Mullins, but this unit needs to come together and some of the new guys need to step up. Texas State has some guys with little experience back there, so with a gunslinger like Mullins, it’s be huge for this unit to force a couple turnovers.

Predictions:

Texas State 27                      Southern Miss 20

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