Week 9 - Southern Miss at Rice

Posted Oct 25, 2012

Week 9 Fearless Prediction – Southern Miss at Rice

Southern Miss (0-7) at Rice (2-6) Oct. 27, 1:00, CSS

Here's The Deal: Southern Miss had strung together a school-record 18 consecutive winning seasons, and had been to 10 straight bowl games. Both streaks officially came to an end with last week's demoralizing 59-24 loss to Marshall. The Golden Eagles are regressing under rookie head coach Ellis Johnson, prompting AD Jeff Hammond to reach out to supporters this week and ask for patience.

Rice sure hasn't quit for hot seat head coach David Bailiff, but the results haven't fulfilled anyone's expectations in Houston. Over the last five weeks, the Owls have won a game and lost three by 11 points combined, capped by last Saturday's 28-24 heartbreaker to one-loss Tulsa. Bailiff realizes he could be coaching for his future over these final four games of the regular season.

Why Southern Miss Might Win: Rice cannot stop the run, one of the few things the Golden Eagles are doing well this season.

Southern Miss will pound the ball between the tackles, unleashing a deep backfield that's produced at least 163 yards on the ground in all but one game this fall. The team has an array of different options at its disposal, ranging from veterans Kendrick Hardy and Desmond Johnson to dual-threat QB Anthony Alford. The Owls are 0-5 this season when allowing more than 200 yards on the ground.

Why Rice Might Win: Southern Miss' Nasty Bunch D has been anything but this season.

The once-proud Golden Eagles defense ranks 112th nationally in scoring, yielding no less than 38 points in each of eh last three games. Marshall trucked it for 629 yards a week ago, a low-point for the unit. This could be a good week for the Owls offense to find a spark. QB Taylor McHargue is a dangerous runner, and when he throws, good things tend to happen when Sam McGuffie is on the receiving end.

What To Watch Out For: When Rice's leading rusher, Charles Ross, injured his shoulder last week, true freshman Luke Turner took over and executed the team's ‘Owl' package rather well. In the most extensive action of his brief career, he rushed for 102 yards on 15 carries in the Tulsa loss. If Ross is limited or is unable to suit up, the coaching staff is confident that Turner will be able to excel in an expanded role.

What Will Happen: Rice is still playing for its coach's future and for a longshot bowl berth. Southern Miss appears to simply be playing out the string. While the Golden Eagles defense is in a state of disarray, the Owls have been playing much better on that side of the ball. The veteran leadership of McHargue plus USM's penchant for turning the ball over will serve as the differences in the game.

CFN Prediction: Rice 34 … Southern Miss 26
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Rice -2 O/U: 58
Must Watch Rating (5 – The Girl, 1 – Don't Trust The B In Apt. 23): 1