Southern Mississippi (9-4 SU, 10-3 ATS) vs. Washington Huskies (6-6 SU, 7-5 ATS)
Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl
Date/Time: December 26, 2015 2:20 PM EST
Where: Fair Park, Cotton Bowl Stadium, Dallas, TX.
by WILSON, NCAA Football Analyst, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SO-MIS +8.5/WASH -8.5
Over/Under Total: 56
The Washington Huskies take on Southern Miss in the first ever meeting between the two schools. Chris Petersen, Head Coach of UW, has a reputation for putting together winning teams and he’s begun to do this in Seattle at the U of W. Petersen’s Huskies finished 6-6 this season but their record really doesn’t do them justice as they have poured it on towards the latter part of the regular season. In the Husky’s last two games of the regular season they scored a combined 97 points and only allowed a total of 17 points to their opponents. These numbers alone are reason for any coaching staff to be on full alert. The Huskies have freshman (Jake Browning) behind center and another freshman (Myles Gaskin) at RB. Browning set UW frosh records with 2,468 passing yards to go along with 20 TD passes. Gaskin also set a UW freshman rushing record by tallying 1,121 yards—the 11th most in school history. Although the Huskies are young, and they took their licks this season; they have improved tremendously and will be tough to handle in this bowl game.
Southern Miss is arguably the most improved program in the country as they finished the season at 9-4 with a 7-1 league play record that earned them a chance to play in the Conference USA Championship game. Southern Miss lost to Western Kentucky in the title game 45-28. The Golden Eagles averaged 40.6 points per game during the regular season and their defense allowed an average of 24.2 to their opponents. This Southern Miss team can put points on the board and they also rack up more than 519 yards on offense per contest. Junior QB Nick Mullens will be a test for the Washington secondary (UW’s defense was ranked the best in the Pac-12 this year) as he has holds records at USM for single- season for completions (306), passing yards (4,146), and touchdowns (36). Other notable game changers include senior RB Jalen Richard and junior OL Cameron Tom. Both Richard and Tom were named to the Conference USA First Team.
A change for Southern Miss in this bowl game will be the fact they have a newly assigned offensive coordinator calling plays as former coordinator, Chip Lindsey, accepted the same role at Arizona State and has departed. John Wozniak was promoted from special teams’ coordinator and WR coach to Offensive Coordinator, and he will be calling the plays against Washington. Certainly there may be some differences in the offensive calls but for the most part the team should execute just as well under Wozniak. The Golden Eagles had a record-breaking season on offense with 528 points scored, 67 touchdowns, 6,758 yards of total offense, 312 pass completions, and 4,263 yards passing. The Huskies of Washington will definitely have their hands full in this matchup!
The key to this matchup will be once again on the performance of key game-changing players for both teams—mostly freshman for UW and the upper classman of Southern Miss. UW is from the more prestigious and major conference in that of the Pac-12 but despite Southern Mississippi’s “not as stellar” Conference USA, they will bring the fight right at the Dogs from Seattle and just might rip them up a bit with their talons.
There are some factors to consider in this contest if you’re looking to find an edge—I believe UW is on a roll as they’ve won their last two games by a large margin and I think that trend continues at the Cotton Bowl (the Huskies playing well). Also, the youth of Washington is scary good; whenever you have a young team on a roll and in their first bowl game you can count on some special moments and with the Huskies talent there will be a lot of these. On the other side of the field, Southern Miss is super athletic for a team from Conference USA, and they have experience, but none in a bowl game (UW is making their 6th straight bowl appearance). The Golden Eagles must come totally prepared for a dogfight in this game.
I am going with Southern Miss in this bowl game to cover the spread - they should be in it until the very end. Luck to ya.
WILSON’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Southern Miss covers the spread.
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