In a season that was filled with many high hopes and aspirations, the Southern Miss football team will play its final game of the season on Saturday against the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
Last season, the Golden Eagles (3-8) won their first game of the 2013 campaign against UAB, crushing the Blazers 62-27 on the road. The Southern Miss offense produced 472 yards of total offense with 370 passing and 170 rushing along with recording 28 first downs.
USM quarterback Nick Mullens put up career numbers, throwing for 370 yards and five touchdowns. Then, the Blazers were 2-9 and 1-6 in Conference USA before playing Southern Miss last year, who had not won a game since beating Nevada in the 2011 Hawaii Bowl.
However, this year, UAB (5-6) sitting third in the C-USA East Division and one win shy of earning its first bowl game appearance since 2004.
Although not competing for a spot in the conference championship, the Blazers are a different team from last year, averaging nearly 198 yards on the ground and 224 yards through the air.
Cody Clements, the Blazers quarterback, has thrown for 2,051 yards, 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions for the year and running back Jordan Howard has rushed for 1,325 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Not to mention, he averages nearly five yards per carry and leads the team in touchdowns. Thus, UAB will look to get him involved in the game on Saturday.
UAB’s six losses for the season have been by less than 15 points. In more detail, the Blazers lost four conference games by a margin of less than 12 points. Last week, UAB gave the Rakeem Cato and the high-powered Marshall Thundering Herd a scare, losing only 23-18 in the matchup.
Thus, the Golden Eagles will have their hands full, trying to stop the Blazers from becoming bowl eligible. However, the matchup makes for an interesting one.
As UAB will look to seek revenge from last year’s disastrous loss at home, Southern Miss will look to end a four-game losing streak and win its final game of the season.
The Golden Eagles have not won a home game since defeating Appalachian State, 21-20, on Sept. 20 and the last time they played at home, Marshall defeated them 63-17.
Despite this, the Golden Eagles average nearly 366 yards of total offense per game but struggle to score in critical situations. Mullens, who was injured before the last game against UTSA, has thrown for 2,207 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Ito Smith leads the team in rushing with 529 total rushing yards while Michael Thomas leads the team in receiving with 580 yards and a team-high five touchdowns.
Taking away blowout losses against top-ranked teams in Mississippi State and Alabama this year, Southern Miss has a lost by margin of 17 points and taking away the loss from Marshall, the Golden Eagles have lost by fewer than 12 points.
The meeting between the two teams will be one two keep an eye on. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. at The Rock. The game will be televised on the American Sports Network.