2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 1 - Louisiana Tech at USM
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Sept. 3 at Southern Miss 19 … Louisiana Tech 17
CFN Analysis: The offense didn't work quite as well as expected, with Austin Davis only throwing for 226 yards and the ground game sputtering for just 153 yards, but the O came through when needed in the final minutes with Danny Hrapmann showing why he's an All-American with a 49-yard bomb for the game-winner – making up for the blocked kick in the first quarter. The USM defense kept the Louisiana Tech offense under wraps with Korey Williams coming up with 13 tackles and Cordarro Law coming up with two sacks, a forced fumble, and eight tackles. Conference USA play starts up next with a trip to Marshall, and the offense needs to find more pop to make life easier.
The Louisiana Tech passing game still isn't working quite right. It's supposed to be high-powered and should stretch the field both vertically and horizontally, and Nick Isham only threw for 176 yards and was off on third downs. With Lennon Creer not picking up the slack – with 53 yards and a score on 17 carries – the offense wasn't able to put away the game. Beating Central Arkansas next week shouldn't be a problem, but the offense needs to come up with more than 244 yards, and the O line has to be much tighter for the Bulldogs to have any shot against Houston and Mississippi State.
(AP) HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- Danny Hrapmann made a 49-yard field goal with 2:32 left to help Southern Miss beat Louisiana Tech 19-17 on Saturday night in the season opener for both teams.
Southern Miss held freshman quarterback Nick Isham and the Louisiana Tech offense to 244 yards, but mistakes on special team cost the Golden Eagles in several crucial situations. Southern Miss muffed and lost a punt at its own 3, had a field goal blocked and gave up Lyle Fitte's 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Down 7-0 at the half, Louisiana Tech tied it at 10 with the kickoff return and took a 17-13 lead after Southern Miss receiver Tracy Lampley muffed a punt at the 3.
Southern Miss pulled within a point on Corey Acosta's 42-yard field goal with 7:44 to go and took the lead on Hrapmann's 49-yarder. The defense then held on fourth-and-5 at midfield to seal the win.
Southern Miss quarterback Austin Davis completed 21 passes for 226 yards. He also threw an interception.
Isham finished 20 of 36 for 176 yards for Tech.
Louisiana Tech (0-0) at Southern Miss (0-0) Sept. 3, 10:00, Fox Sports Net
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Here's The Deal … Despite being separated by just a four-hour highway trip, last September's 13-12 Southern Miss victory was the first meeting between the schools since 1992. Saturday night's contest at Roberts Stadium will be the second in a four-game series that'll resume in 2013 and 2014. Louisiana Tech enters Year 2 of the Sonny Dykes era with high hopes. His debut was an awkward mix of the old regime's players with the new guard's systems. However, the Bulldogs were a different team in the second half of 2010, scoring at least 34 points in four of the final six games. With continued improvement, they hope to earn a bowl berth for just the third time in the last two decades. Is this the year that fourth-year head coach Larry Fedora fulfills the promise to bring Southern Miss to the peak of Conference USA? He's been close, bowling in each of the last three Decembers, but has yet to break through with even an East Division crown. With key returning parts dotting both sides of the ball, the Golden Eagles hope 2011 will be their long-overdue breakthrough year.
Why Louisiana Tech Might Win: The Bulldogs are a hidden gem out of the WAC, building momentum at the end of last year, and using the JUCO ranks to inject veteran talent into the roster. Now, the offense still has strides to make, but its quarterback situation is settled and its running game is in capable hands. Unlike last summer, when chaos was the order of the day, Colby Cameron has seized the opportunity to attack the Southern Miss secondary, the weakest link of the program. And former Tennessee RB Lennon Creer is a future pro, who fueled the resurgence of the Tech offense last October and November.
Why Southern Miss Might Win: A shaky Louisiana Tech D is desperately seeking a fast start to 2011. It's not going to get it in Hattiesburg. Sure, the Bulldogs have pockets of playmakers, such as linebackers Adrien Cole and Jay Dudley, but they won't be enough to stall a very good Golden Eagles offense. Southern Miss will be led for one final year by versatile leader QB Austin Davis, a blend of accurate passes and back-breaking runs. The senior will get plenty of help on the ground from Conference USA's deepest backfield. Kendrick Hardy and Desmond Johnson, in particular, would get snaps for a bunch of SEC schools.
What To Watch Out For: Both Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech have issues along the offensive line, which could shine a spotlight on both school's top pass rushers. For the Golden Eagles, Cordarro Law is one of Conference USA's top edge rushers, and LB Korey Williams is always a threat to come hard on the blitz. The Bulldogs feature DE Matt Broha, an All-WAC defender who'll defend the run as well as he collapses a pocket. Quarterbacks Davis and Cameron will need to do a fair amount of improvising on Saturday night.
What Will Happen: Considering its only Week 1, this will wind up being a pivotal game for Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech, which both have aspirations of turning the corner in 2011. The Bulldogs are a team that's going to get better as the season unfolds, especially if Cameron can fill the void at quarterback. However, the Golden Eagles will be a tough opening weekend draw in Hattiesburg. They've got more defensive talent and enough balance on offense to keep Tech from spoiling their home opener.
CFN Prediction: Southern Miss 31 … Louisiana Tech 21
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Southern Miss -13 O/U: 58.5
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