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Southern Miss 30 … at Virginia 24

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Sep 24, 2011


Week 4 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Southern Miss at Virginia


2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 4 - Southern Miss at Virginia

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Sept. 24 Southern Miss 30 … at Virginia 24
CFN Analysis: Good luck figuring this team out. Southern Miss has a lousy game against Marshall, gets going against SE Louisiana, and then comes up with a terrific road performance with a great defensive effort to offset no running game and just enough problems early to make this a fight. Austin Davis threw for 313 yards and three scores, but he also got plenty of help and some timely big plays to move the chains late when needed. Tracy Lampley’s catch-and-run for a first down on 3rd-and-23 might be a season-definer if the Golden Eagles keep on winning, and if Davis can stay hot and if the defensive front can continue to apply pressure in the backfield, with their schedule, a ten-win season is possible.

Virginia couldn’t seem to come up with the key play at the right time to turn the game around. The Cavaliers have been playing up or down to their competition, and while they converted on three fourth down tries, Michael Rocco’s three interceptions were a killer and the lack of a late defensive stop gave away the win. This was there for the taking, and Virginia didn’t get it done. With Idaho up next, it’s time to settle on the right quarterback to stick with the rest of the way, and it’s time to get an easy win before dealing with Georgia Tech. The run defense has been just good enough to give the Yellow Jackets a hard time, and with a week off after playing the Vandals, the coaches basically have three weeks to prepare.

(AP) CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Austin Davis threw three touchdown passes and Southern Mississippi held on for a 30-24 victory against Virginia on Saturday.

Davis' biggest completion came with less than 3 minutes to play -- a swing pass that Tracy Lampley took 41 yards down the left sideline to convert a third-and-23 from the Golden Eagles' 41 yard-line.

Virginia (2-2) had closed to within a field goal on David Watford's 1-yard TD pass to Jeremiah Mathis and his 2-point conversion pass to Kris Burd with 5:18 left, but Lampley's huge catch-and-run led to a 27-yard Danny Hrapmann field goal with 1:31 left,

After picking up one first down on its ensuing possession, Virginia gave up the ball on downs.

Southern Miss (3-1) beat the Cavaliers for the second straight time and beat a BCS-level school on the road for the first time in five tries.

Just like when the teams met in Hattiesburg, Miss., in 2009, and the Golden Eagles rallied from a 27-10 halftime deficit to win, this one was a heartbreaker for the Cavaliers.

Playing from behind most of the game, they seemed poised to make a dramatic rally when Watford drove them 76 yards for the score with 5:18 to play. But then Davis made all the key plays, hitting Kelvin Bolden for 13 yards on third-and-9 from his 41, and Lampley for the big gainer from the same spot after a personal foul negated a big gain and moved the ball back.

After the Golden Eagles eventually settled for their final field goal, Watford scrambled 15 yards for one Virginia first down, but he missed on third- and fourth-down passes to end it.

Davis finished 27 for 41 for 313 yards with no interceptions. He threw touchdown passes of 32 and 3 yards to Bolden and a 20-yarder to Ryan Balentine.

The Golden Eagles intercepted Michael Rocco three times, and while the turnovers led to only one field goal for the visitors, they kept Virginia's defense on the field.

So did the Golden Eagles, at the most unlikely of times.

On fourth-and-15 from their 8 in the second quarter, trailing 13-7, Hrapmann, the punter, rolled right in the end zone as if he was going to do a rugby kick, saw green and took off. He gained 31 yards and a first down, keeping alive a 14-play, 87-yard drive that featured two third-down conversions and a short pass that Balentine took 20 yards for a touchdown.

An exchange of punts found the Cavaliers starting at their own 1, and coach Mike London sent Watford in at quarterback. Three plays netted 2 yards, and Jimmy Howell's punt set the Golden Eagles up at the Virginia 35. A 23-yard connection from Davis to Lampley highlighted the 8-play drive, and Davis found Bolden with no one near him on third-and-goal from the 3 for the TD.

The Cavaliers scored on consecutive drives to go ahead 13-7. Rocco scored the first touchdown on a 6-yard keeper, and after the defense held, he led the team on a 69-yard drive in six plays. Perry Jones had a 20-yard run in the drive, a 15-yard personal foul helped too, and redshirt freshman Kevin Parks scored from the 9, running over defenders near the goal line.

Southern Miss (2-1) at Virginia (2-1) Sept. 24, 3:30

Here’s The Deal … Virginia lost for the first time in 2011, a 28-17 defeat at the hands of North Carolina. The key will be to make sure that the loss doesn’t cost the Cavaliers more than one game. They’re a very young and somewhat fragile team that can be impacted by intangibles, such as emotions and momentum. With upcoming home games versus Southern Miss and Idaho, head coach Mike London is looking at this as a two-game stretch leading into the bye week that could get the team to 4-1 in time for the continuation of ACC play.

Are the Golden Eagles Conference USA contenders or not? It’s still way too early to tell. The talent screams potential, but that loss to Marshall two weeks ago tells a different story. Southern Miss rebounded with a 52-6 rout of Southeastern Louisiana that was little more than a four-quarter scrimmage.

Why Southern Miss Might Win: The Golden Eagles have spent the first three games of the season earning their “Nasty Bunch” moniker on defense. It’s only allowed four touchdowns while racking up frequent flyer miles on trips to opposing backfields. The front seven is among the brightest in Conference USA, featuring linemen Cordarro Law and Terrance Pope, and high-motor linebackers Korey Williams, Jamie Collins and Ronnie Thornton. Virginia showed its true offensive colors when facing a grown-up D for the first time a week ago, moving the chains liberally but struggling to put points on the board.

Why Virginia Might Win: What is wrong with the Southern Miss offense? Forget for a moment last Saturday’s outburst against Southeastern Louisiana. It was Southeastern Louisiana. In the first two games, the Golden Eagles scored just 19 points versus Louisiana Tech and 20 against Marshall. The Cavaliers boast a physical D that’s capable of muscling average offensive lines back off the ball. UVa’s strength is in the secondary, where CB Chase Minnifield is capable of cutting off half the field on QB Austin Davis. Opposing passers are completing less than 50% of their passes on Virginia, which will force USM to rely more on the running of Kendrick Hardy.

What To Watch Out For: If Southern Miss is going to deliver the upset, it’ll need to ushered in by the front wall. In the Golden Eagles’ two wins, Davis was sacked just twice. In the loss to Marshall, DE Vinny Curry alone got to him three times. The blockers will need to find a way to keep a talented group of Virginia pass rushers from violating the integrity of the pocket. That means someone will need to account for DE Cam Johnson and DT Nick Jenkins at all times. Davis has very quick feet and good improv skills, but he’s not nearly as effective when being flushed from the pocket.

What Will Happen: This is a key game for Virginia, arguably the most important of the first half of the season. A win gets the program back on track. A loss, however, could start a slide while evoking some negative vibes from prior years. London will get his kids motivated to play with a sense of urgency, aided by the passing game. QB Michael Rocco will actually outduel Davis, spreading the ball to his backs, receivers and tight ends in an effort to dent an already susceptible Southern Miss pass defense.

CFN Prediction: Virginia 27 … Southern Miss 20
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Virginia -3  O/U: 53

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