Southern Miss pulled off one of the biggest shockers of the season be beating the previously unbeaten Houston Cougars in the Conference USA championship and for their efforts they’ll get to go to Hawaii for Christmas. They’ll face Nevada on Christmas Eve trying to become the first 12 win team in the history of the USM program.
Bowl Breakdown: Both teams rely on rush-heavy attacks and are in the top 30 in points scored averaging over 30 a game. This should be a fun-to-watch shootout to have on while your finishing wrapping all those last-minute gifts and stuffing those stockings. Nevada’s “pistol” offense features freshman QB Cody Fajardo. His dual threat attack will be radically different than the Case Keenum-led Houston attack but the USM defense does rank 29th in the country on defense allowing only 21 points per game. Southern Miss’s offense has been led throughout the year by Senior QB Austin Davis. Davis has passed the legend that is Brett Favre at USM in yds and TDs, and leads a very potent offense up against a Nevada team that can be scored on and has given up 30+ 5 times this season. Davis is helped on offense by a potent running game that averages 207 yards a game utilizing a time share between Freshman Jamal Woodyard and Juniors Tracey Lampley and Desmond Johnson. Coach Larry Fedora will be coaching his last game for the Golden Eagles before taking over at UNC this offseason. He reportedly was adamant about coaching this game and the players will be fired up to send him out with a win. I expect the USM defense to slow down a Nevada team that has lost 2 out of its last 3 and the Southern Miss offense to be able to move up and down the field as they put on a show and win the Hawaii Bowl.
Pro Prospect: Austin Davis-USM-QB: Davis isn’t Brett Favre but could be an interesting late round grab for a franchise looking to develop a QB long term. He’ll probably go in rounds 4 or 5 depending on all the pre-draft workouts… Brett Roy-Nevada-DT: Roy led the WAC in tackles for a loss and sacks and should be drafted in the 5th or 6th round… James-Michael Johnson-Nevada-ILB: One of the better ILB’s in a thin crop who has a nose for the ball and makes lots of tackles. He’s probably a 4th or 5th rounder as well.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of our ongoing series for our Bowl Mania. You can find the same type of analysis for the MAACO Las Vegas, Poinsettia, Beef ‘O’Brady’s, New Orleans, New Mexico, and Idaho Potato Bowls