The Golden Eagles face a daunting task Saturday as they travel to San Antonio to take on the UTSA Roadrunners. UTSA is undefeated. Southern Miss has lost seven straight. The irresistible force meets the immovable object.
UTSA is one of only four undefeated teams in Division One college football. UTSA made their College Football Playoff rankings debut on Tuesday, coming in at 23. The Associated Press has the Roadrunners ranked at 15.
UTSA is coming off a 44-23 throttling of UTEP, while Southern Miss allowed 38 unanswered points in a home loss to North Texas.
The Roadrunners have a 2,000 yard passer with quarterback Frank Harris and a 1,000 yard rusher with running back Sincere McCormick. Harris has completed 65.8% of his passes along with 18 touchdowns and three interceptions. McCormick has averaged five yards per carry with ten touchdowns.
As the offensive success of UTSA has paved the way for success, the offensive struggles have led Southern Miss to a 1-8 record thus far. Jake Lange, one of six Golden Eagles to play at quarterback this season, has completed 57.7% of his passes with five touchdowns and six interceptions.
Frank Gore Jr., has averaged a modest 4.3 yards per carry for 608 yards and one touchdown.
While the Golden Eagle defense has not achieved success statistically, the stats do not paint the entire picture. Momentum is a real thing, and the fact that Southern Miss has only averaged 13.7 points per game means that the defense has spent a lot of time on the field.
The Golden Eagles had only two drives net more than five total plays against North Texas. Southern Miss has had problems with turning the ball over, which gives the defense a short field to work with.
Head Coach Will Hall has openly acknowledged the Golden Eagles’ struggles.
“Obviously we are not a good football team. There’s a whole lot you can say, [but] you guys can see it,” Hall said.
Hall has consistently preached the importance of building the roster through recruiting. He noted that they are “one of the youngest teams” in college football. With only three games remaining, players that were going to redshirt this season are available to play the remaining games as the NCAA allows four games for redshirt eligibility.
The Golden Eagles look to win their first Conference USA victory of the season by handing UTSA their first loss of 2021. This would not be the first time Southern Miss played spoiler to an undefeated team late in the season, as the 2011 Golden Eagles defeated the undefeated Houston Cougars to win the Conference USA championship. While the stakes were much higher for Southern Miss then, it is not impossible for Southern Miss to play spoiler again.
Southern Miss opened as a 33 point underdog. Kickoff is at 2:30 p.m. at the Alamodome. The game will be available to watch on ESPN+.