Week 12 - UTEP at Southern Miss

Posted Nov 16, 2012

Week 12 Fearless Prediction – UTEP at Southern Miss

UTEP (2-8) at Southern Miss (0-10) Nov. 17, 8:00, CBS Sports Network

Here's The Deal: Massachusetts defeated Akron last week. Why would that matter to Southern Miss? Because the Golden Eagles are now the final FBS team without a win in 2012. Until last week's defeat at the hands of SMU, 34-6, no USM team in the long and proud history of the program had ever lost 10 games in a season. The 2012 edition has two more chances to break through with a victory.

UTEP is stumbling to the finish line once again, a disturbing trend during the nine-year tenure of head coach Mike Price, whose contract expires this year. The Miners have won just twice all season, once in conference and none outside of El Paso. All eyes will be on athletic director Bob Stull, who'll decide the fate of Price at some point after next Saturday's game with Rice.

Why UTEP Might Win: The Miners are trending north with the ball, which should continue against one of the nation's worst defenses.

Southern Miss is allowing 38 points per game, has had a particular issue stopping the run and has just one player consistently getting to the quarterback, Jamie Collins. While UTEP is a little unsure at quarterback because of the ineffectiveness of Nick Lamaison, RB Nathan Jeffery appears more than capable of carrying the offense now that he's healthy. A budding star in the league, he's gone for more than 100 yards in consecutive games, capped by 175 last week versus a talented UCF D.

Why Southern Miss Might Win: UTEP stopped getting a push up front on defense two months ago. The Eagles will look to capitalize by controlling the line of scrimmage, and wearing down the Miners on the ground.

Southern Miss is No. 4 in the league in rushing, employing a deep collection of eclectic backs. In the absence of suspended Desmond Johnson, Jeremy Hester and Jalen Richard have ably carried the load. Plus, when rookie QB Anthony Alford lines up behind center, it's like having another running back on the field.

What To Watch Out For: Southern Miss isn't going to break from the winless column until it learns to hold on to the ball. Neither team has been good in turnover margin, but the Golden Eagles rank 119th in the FBS. Not only do they cough it up too often, but they're last in the league in takeaways. Deron Wilson, an underrated corner, can dramatically help his offense by picking off a pass or two from Lamaison or skittish rookie Blaire Sullivan.

What Will Happen: You're long overdue, Southern Miss.

The Golden Eagles aren't very good this season, but they remain hungry to get into the win column. And they'll be hosting a UTEP team that has hasn't won a road game since last Oct. 15. USM will lean on its underrated running game to extend drives, while its defensive stars, Collins and Wilson, will do just enough to keep Jeffery from taking the game over. It won't be pretty, but Southern Miss is long past the stage of seeking out style points.

CFN Prediction: Southern Miss 24 … UTEP 22
Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) UTEP -4 O/U: 49.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Killing Them Softly, 1 – The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2): 1