Even though the Nebraska Cornhuskers are a three touchdown plus favorite over the Southern Miss Golden Eagles on Saturday in Lincoln, don't think for a moment this is a walkover game for them, as the Eagles are 2-1 on the season.
How could the Huskers lose this one? Five good reasons right here....
Nick Mullens and the Southern Miss Passing Attack:
Nebraska’s passing defense struggles have been well documented (the Huskers rank 127th out of 128 teams). Southern Miss QB Nick Mullens is completing 64% of his passes with eight touchdowns and three interceptions. The Golden Eagles have a lot of weapons at wide receiver, including seven WRs on their roster over 6 feet tall. Mullens numbers have been similar in all of his games, including a 34-16 loss to Mississippi State. Against an SEC defense (whatever that’s worth) Mullens completed 30-44 passes for 311 yards and a touchdown. If Mullens can pick apart the Husker defense, which has not been very difficult this year, Southern Miss will have a shot to pull a big-time upset.
Nebraska may come out flat:
Nebraska has had two heartbreaking losses in three games. It is completely possible for the Huskers to have no motivation to get up early this Saturday and play a team they are favored by three touchdowns. If Nebraska comes out flat, Southern Miss has the offense to punch the Huskers in the mouth early.
Nebraska’s defense gives up big plays:
Nebraska’s defense has been up and down in the first three games. The rush defense has looked very good at times, and the pass defense… well, we have touched on that. The Nebraska defense ranks 116th in giving up plays of ten yards, 126th in plays of 30 yards, and 110th in plays of 40 yards. This leads us to our next reason Southern Miss has a chance at the Huskers.
Southern Miss has the offense to stick around:
The only way I can see Southern Miss winning this game is if they can make it a shootout. The Golden Eagle offense has been explosive this season, ranking 4th in plays of 30 yards and 9th in plays of 40 or more yards. If Southern Miss is able to stick around (which I think they do for the first half) who knows what could happen late in the game. McNeese State was able to stick around last season, and Nebraska could have lost that game if not for Ameer Abdullah’s heroics.
Southern Miss has talent on the defensive line:
Southern Miss ranks 33rd in the country in sacks per game, nothing special, but you throw in the inability for Nebraska’s offensive line to protect Tommy Armstrong and you could have an issue. Armstrong’s mobility has helped the offensive line stats look a little better than they have played. Nebraska is giving up 1.67 sacks per game which ranks 63rd. The Southern Miss D-line ranks 21st in the country in tackles for loss with 23. If the Husker offensive line can’t contain Southern Mississippi’s talented D-Line don’t be surprised to see the Eagles with a chance to win this one.