The Old Dominion Monarchs (5-5, 3-3) will travel to face the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (7-3, 5-1) in a Conference USA matchup Saturday afternoon. This marks the first meeting between the schools as conference foes as Old Dominion recently transitioned to the FBS level.
Old Dominion has won two straight after downing UTEP 31-21 at home last Saturday. Southern Miss remained tied for the top spot in the West Division of Conference USA by winning their fourth straight by pummeling Rice 65-10 on the road Saturday. The kickoff from M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Mississippi is scheduled for 3:30 pm ET; the game will not be nationally televised. Southern Miss is currently a 21.5 point favorite with the over/under set at 61 points in this contest.
Old Dominion rallied from down 9-3 after one quarter and took the lead for good in the final seconds of the first half against UTEP. The Monarchs outgained the Miners 441-305, finished with 22 first downs while allowing 19 and forced the only two turnovers of the game. Those numbers helped Old Dominion overcome the fact that they lost the time of possession battle by a 31:07 to 28:53 margin in the contest. After falling behind 15-10, Old Dominion scored the next 21 points to take command of the game.
The Monarchs are another struggling young FBS program as they are currently 79th (212.3 yards) in passing offense and 69th (166.9 yards) in rushing on the year. Old Dominion is scoring 22.9 points per game, which is tied for 92nd in the nation, while they stand tied for 102nd in scoring defense by allowing 34 points per contest. The passing game is anemic as Shuler Bentley has hit 94 of 186 passes for 917 yards with six touchdowns and five picks. David Washington has hit on 93 of 157 passes for 1,159 yards with eight touchdown passes and three interceptions while adding 124 yards on the ground in his work. Ray Lawry is the feature back in the ground game with 190 carries for 1,128 yards and 11 touchdowns; the rest of the team has combined for 164 carries for 541 yards and four scores. Zach Pascal has grabbed a team leading 56 passes for 758 yards and four scores; Johnathan Duhart (32 grabs, 443 yards, 6 TD), Vincent Lowe (15 receptions, 117 yards), Marques Little (21 receptions, 206 yards, 2 TD), Jeremy Cox (10 receptions as a RB) and Lawry (18 grabs out of the backfield) are the only other players with double digit receptions. Three kickers have combined to hit 23 of 25 extra points and 10 of 15 field goal attempts on the year with a long of 45 yards.
Southern Miss absolutely dismantled Rice last week as they continue their late season run of success. The Golden Eagles were up 42-0 at halftime and kept Rice off the board until the fourth quarter, by which point they had extended their advantage to 58-0. Southern Miss outgained the Owls by a hefty 682-214 margin, racked up 26 first downs while holding Rice to 15 and held the ball for 31:12 to 28:48 in the game. Both teams committed one turnover in the contest but that was hardly an issue for Southern Miss.
The Golden Eagles currently are 13th in the nation in passing with an average of 339.4 yards per game; they are 48th in the nation in rushing with an average of 185.7 yards per game. Southern Miss averages 38.6 points per game, which is tied for 15th in the nation; they are allowing 21.4 points per contest, which has them 30th in the nation in scoring defense. Nick Mullens has hit 64.9 percent of his passes (246 of 379) for 3,276 yards with 30 touchdowns and seven picks while averaging 8.64 yards per pass attempt. The Golden Eagles have a solid 1-2 punch on the ground with Jalen Richard (146 carries, 886 yards, 8 TD) and Ito Smith (103 carries, 689 yards, 3 TD) help move the sticks on the ground. Justice Hayes is a capable third back when he gets his chances; he has 43 carries for 192 yards and two scores. Casey Martin is the team’s leading receiver with 60 grabs for 640 yards and six scores; Michael Thomas (45 receptions, 863 yards, 9 TD) is a solid #2 receiver and Smith has been a solid receiver out of the backfield with 36 grabs for 420 yards and three scores. DJ Thompson has hauled in 42 balls for 603 yards and six touchdowns and Richard has 23 catches from the backfield, giving Mullens two good safety valves out of the backfield. Southern Miss has had two kickers this season; they’ve combined for 47 of 50 on extra points and 11 of 16 on field goals with no kick longer than 39 yards.
Southern Miss is 5-1 ATS in their last six after throwing for at least 280 yards, 5-1 ATS in their last six on turf, 4-1 ATS in their last five at home, 8-2 ATS in their last 10 overall and 8-3-1 ATS in their last 12 after a straight up win of at least 20 points. Old Dominion is 2-6 ATS in their last eight on the road, 1-3-1 ATS in their last five against teams with a winning record, 2-7-1 ATS in their last 10 overall and 2-10-1 ATS in their last 13 on turf.
The Golden Eagles are playing terrific ball right now and it doesn’t matter if they are at home or on the road as evidenced by last week’s demolition of Rice. Old Dominion has played better than expected this season but they’re facing a team that is flying high right now. I’m not sure the Monarchs have the weapons to hang in; give the points and take Southern Miss as Mullens has another big game for the Golden Eagles.