Troy vs. Southern Miss in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 21 at 8:15 p.m. in New Orleans, LA on ESPN
In the seventh annual New Orleans Bowl, the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles face the Troy Trojans. Southern Miss will be trying to win their third New Orleans Bowl in as many tries while Troy is trying to win its second according to Wikipedia. The game is played in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, LA, so weather will not be a factor in this game. The stadium seats nearly 73,000 fans so if the stadium is mostly full, it will be twice as big as either school is used to at their home games. Both schools are relatively close with Southern Mississippi being just over 100 miles away and Troy being just over 330 according to Google Maps. This means that the crowd might lean slightly toward Southern Miss. Below you will find analysis of each school’s offense, defense, and special teams based on statistics compiled from FoxSports.com.
Offense: Troy had a very effective offense this season. They ran for 175.5 yards per game to rank 36th in the country. By passing for 246 yards per game, they ranked 32nd. Overall, their offense was 26th, scoring 33.3 points per game and gaining 421.5 yards. The offense took a blow losing sophomore quarterback Jamie Hampton in week 5, but Levi Brown, a junior, stepped in and threw for 1775 yards, 14 touchdowns, and only 3 interceptions.
Defense: Troy’s defense has been very strong this year. They allow 139.3 yards to rushers (54th) and only 180.4 to passers (23rd) this season. When it comes to scoring, they have allowed 20.6 points per game (31st), however they have only surrendered 12 points in the last two games. Troy intercepted 21 passes this year which is 5th in the country.
Special Teams: Special teams have been good for the Trojans this year. They average 9.57 yards per punt return and 21.35 per kick return while allowing 18 yards per kickoff and 2.5 per punt return to rank 8th and 2nd, respectively.
Southern Mississippi (7-5)
Offense: The Golden Eagles have run and passed at will this season racking up more than 196 rushing yards per game (24th) and more than 238 yards passing per game (38th). Their offense ranks 20th nationwide averaging 30.7 points and 434.5 yards per game. They have scored 70 points in a single game this season and 51 in another. Freshman Quarterback Austin Davis threw for over 2,800 yards this season, throwing 21 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.
Defense: In its four game win streak to finish out the season, the defense has only given up 35 points total, which is less than they gave up in 3 of the 4 losses that preceded the win streak. The defense prior to that had been porous giving up 145 yards rushing (67th) and 223.9 yards passing (85th) for a total of 368.9 yards per game (70th). They have allowed an average of 23.8 points per game (54th) over the whole season.
Special Teams: Their return game is average, gaining 7.38 yards per punt return and 20.24 yards per kick return. When they are covering kickoffs, they are 25th in the country allowing only 19.1 yards per return. Punt coverage is a glaring weakness. They allow 13.5 yards per punt return which ranks them as the ninth worst punt coverage team in the nation. Surprisingly, they have not allowed a punt to be returned for a touchdown.
Match Up: When the Trojans and Golden Eagles square off, two very good offenses will take the field. Both teams average over 30 points per game and both teams have the ability to explode and score over 50. Both defenses have been stingy lately, but against each other they might not be as good. Troy has the definite edge on defense and they will have the edge on special teams, especially on punts. In their one common game, Troy beat Louisiana-Lafayette by 45 and Southern Miss won by 30. Southern Miss has been hot lately winning their last four games to become bowl eligible after starting off 2-6. Troy started off 2-2 and then won 6 of the last 8 games. In the end, Troy will be too much for the Golden Eagles.
Prediction: Troy 38 – Southern Mississippi 31