Friday, October 15, 2010

PREVIEW: Tigers vs. Southern Miss

Posted By on Fri, Oct 15, 2010 at 8:00 AM

Saturday, 11 a.m., Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium


• As the Tigers aim to erase memories of last week’s 56-0 defeat at Louisville, Southern Miss enters Saturday’s game with the bitter taste of a 44-43 loss to East Carolina — in Hattiesburg — still in their mouths. The loss dropped the Golden Eagles a game behind ECU in Conference USA’s East Division standings and ended a four-game winning streak for coach Larry Fedora’s squad. Now 4-2, Southern Miss also lost to South Carolina on September 2nd in Columbia.

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• Southern Miss is currently sixth in C-USA in total offense (404 yards per game), while the Tigers are last in the 12-team league (275.8). The Golden Eagles are second in total defense (291.8), while the Tigers are 10th (436.3). Southern Miss leads C-USA in rushing defense (92) and is tied for the top with eight interceptions in their six games.

• Three Southern Miss players have rushed for 200 yards this season, led by Desmond Johnson with 296. Johnson averages 4.9 yards per carry and has also caught 14 passes for 76 yards. Quarterback Austin Davis averages 200 yards passing per game and has completed 62 percent of his throws. Davis ranks fifth in C-USA in total offense (236 yards per game). Memphis quarterback Ryan Williams is 10th (133.4).

• Southern Miss has one of the finest kickers in C-USA in Danny Hrapmann. The freshman leads the league in scoring (61 points) and has been perfect on field goals, connecting on all 14 of his attempts.

• The Tigers and Golden Eagles have played a total of 60 times, more than any other opponent on the Memphis schedule. The first Black-and-Blue Bowl was played in 1935 (a 12-0 Southern Miss win), then the teams met every season from 1952 to 1979. After a one-season interruption in 1980, the teams resumed the series and have played every year since. Southern Miss owns the overall edge, 38-21 (with one tie, in 1972). The Tigers are 15-17 against the Eagles at home, and have won four of the last six meetings. Southern Miss won last year in Hattiesburg, 36-16.

• Through six games, the Tigers have given up 235 points, more than they gave up in an entire season — three times — under Rip Scherer (1996, 1999, and 2000).

• With 111 passing yards Saturday, Williams would become the first Tiger freshman to pass for 1,000 yards since Danny Wimprine in 2001. Wimprine, it should be noted, was a redshirt-freshman, while Williams was playing high school football a year ago.

• Jerrell Rhodes and Greg Ray are competing for the Tiger rushing lead. Through six games, Rhodes has 332 yards on 83 carries, while Ray has carried the ball 77 times for 297 yards. Jermaine McKenzie leads Memphis with 214 yards on 14 receptions.

• Tiger linebacker Jamon Hughes is tied for the C-USA lead with 65 total tackles. Having played six games, his average is slightly below that of Marshall’s Mario Harvey and Tulane’s Trent Mackey, who have each played only five games.

• Saturday will be the 45th anniversary of a rare Tiger victory over a Top-10 opponent. On October 16, 1965, Memphis beat 10th-ranked Mississippi State, 33-13. The game was just the second for the Tigers at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

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