FACTS AND FIGURES
Where: Hattiesburg, Miss. (47,169)
Colors: Black and gold
Nickname: Golden Eagles
Last game: Lost at Arkansas 24-3 on Saturday
COACH Todd Monken, 47, inherited a program that went 0-12 last year (EllisJohnson's lone season as head coach). Monken was Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator from 2011-12 before taking over at Southern Miss. Monken previously served as offensive coordinator at Eastern Michigan and was an assistant at Louisiana Tech, LSU and in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
OFFENSE Southern Miss runs a similar spread that Monken found so successful with Oklahoma State, led by redshirt senior quarterback Allan Bridgford, a graduate transfer from Cal. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Bridgford has completed 66-of-121 passes for 732 yards with two touchdowns and seven interceptions.
The offense is built to distribute the ball to different recipients 12 players have caught passes in the first three games, led by freshman Tyreoune Holmes (24 receptions, 173 yards). Senior Ricky Bradley has averaged 25 yards per catch (10 for 250 yards). The Golden Eagles are 117th in FBS in rushing (68 yards a game) and 120th in scoring (10.3).
DEFENSE The Golden Eagles run a 4-2-5 that utilizes a bandit that is similar to Boise State's "stud," where a versatile defensive lineman can drop back into coverage. There also is a "spur," which is similar to the nickel spot the Broncos have employed in the past, a sort of linebacker/safety hybrid.
Through three games, Southern Miss has taken its lumps, particularly against the run, having given up 205.3 yards per game on the ground, 98th nationally. The pass defense has allowed only 397 yards all season, the fourth-fewest allowed per game in the nation. Linebacker Alan Howze has 34 tackles to lead the team, followed closely by safety DeBarriaus Miller's 31, both top 25 nationally in tackles per game. The Golden Eagles only have one sack thus far and have created three turnovers while the offense has given up 12 the minus-3.0 turnover per game differential is last in the nation.
SPECIAL TEAMS Running back Jalen Richard has provided a spark in the return game, with three punt returns for 57 yards, covering 35, 17 and 5 yards. Junior kicker Corey Acosta is 5-of-7 on field goals, with a long of 45. Sophomore Matthew Moseley has had five punts of more than 50 yards this season.
DID YOU KNOW? Until last season, the Golden Eagles had not missed a bowl game since the 2001 season, a streak of 10 straight bowls that was tied with Boise State and two others for the ninth-longest in the nation.