Sunday College Football

Sunday College Football

Sunday's College Football TV Capsule

Opening Line: Southern Miss by 3.

Series Record: Southern Miss leads 2-0.

Last Meeting: 2006, Southern Miss 19-14

Last Meeting: 2006, Southern Miss 19-14

Central Florida is 0-3 all-time in the state of Mississippi. ... UCF is second in Conference USA in rushing offense (211.9 yards per game), second in rushing defense (143 yards per game), third in passing defense (128.65) and total defense (393.4 yards per game). ... Knights RB Kevin Smith is second in the nation in rushing (155 yards per game) and rushing touchdowns (14). ... Southern Miss is 32-8 all-time at home in Conference USA games. ... The Golden Eagles are first in C-USA in scoring defense (24.7 points per game), tied for first in red zone defense (73.3 percent), second in rushing defense (142.7 yards per game), passing defense (219.7 yards per game) and total defense (362.4 yards per game).

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Re: Sunday College Football

Game Preview for U-C-F vs Southern Miss

FACTS amp; STATS: Site: Roberts Stadium (33,000) -- Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Television: ESPN. Home Record: UCF 3-1, USM 2-1. Away Record: UCF 1-2, USM 2-2. Neutral Record: UCF 0-0, USM 0-0. Conference Record: UCF 2-1, USM 3-1. Series Record: Southern Mississippi leads, 2-0.

GAME NOTES: A couple of teams with identical records hook up at Roberts Stadium this Sunday, as the UCF Knights square off against the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles in Conference USA play. The Knights enter the game on a winning note, posting a 44-23 triumph over Tulsa on October 20th. The win put an end two a brief two-game slide and improved the team to 4-3 overall and 2-1 in league play. UCF however, now hits the road, where it has lost two straight games and hasn't won since defeating NC State (25-23) in its season- opener on September 1st. As for USM, it participated in a Sunday night game last weekend as well, earning a 33-24 victory at Marshall. It was the second win in a row for the Eagles, who improved to 4-3 overall and 3-1 in conference action. The team now heads back to the friendly confines of Roberts Stadium, where it has gone 2-1 thus far. USM has defeated UCF in two previous meetings on the gridiron, and that includes a 19-14 triumph in Orlando last season.

The Knights are averaging a hardy 34.9 ppg this season mainly because of their ground attack, which has accounted for 22 touchdowns and 211.9 ypg. Leading the way is Kevin Smith, who has rushed for 1,085 yards and 14 touchdowns. Last weekend, Smith went off for 170 yards and three scores on 33 carries in a 44-23 triumph over Tulsa. He also logged his first receiving touchdown in the win. With that performance, Smith moved into sole possession of second place in career rushing touchdowns (30) and rushing yards (3,197) in program history. It was also his 15th career 100-plus yard rushing performance and that ties a school record. Smith, though, wasn't the only one to turn in a noteworthy performance last weekend, as quarterback Kyle Israel put forth one of his best efforts of the season. Israel completed an efficient 21-of-29 pass attempts for 224 yards and a score, in addition to rushing for 53 yards and another touchdown on 10 carries. For the year however, Israel has struggled with consistency and he has thrown for just 1,067 yards and six scores. He does though, have five rushing touchdowns to his credit.

The biggest concern for the Knights this season has been their defense, which is allowing 33.7 ppg and 393.4 total ypg. The unit has had most of its problems against the pass, allowing 250.4 ypg and 18 touchdowns through the air. Last weekend, UCF did a solid job in limiting Tulsa's spread offense to just 379 total yards in a winning cause. The unit allowed 320 of those yards through the air, but it made up for it by picking off four passes and recording five sacks. The interceptions were a big and pleasant surprise, as the Knights had picked off just three passes through their first six games. Bruce Miller turned in an all-around performance in the win, recording nine stops, a forced fumble and two sacks. Jason Venson added eight stops and his first interception of the season, and he now leads this defense with 53 stops for the year.

The Eagles are dangerous on offense because of their balance, as they are rushing for 174.3 ypg and passing for 224.9 ypg. Last weekend, though, USM gained 310 of its 470 total yards through the air in a 33-24 victory over Marshall. Stephen Reaves accounted for all the passing yards and he completed an efficient 23-of-30 tosses with one touchdown. It was a solid performance by Reaves, who has thrown for 776 yards and three touchdowns this season. Reaves will likely get the nod under center again this weekend, as starter Jeremy Young is listed as questionable with a high ankle sprain. Young has missed the last few weeks with the injury, but with Reaves coming on strong, USM may want to give him some more time to rest. Whomever is under center will have the luxury of handing the ball off to Damion Fletcher, one of the top tailbacks in C-USA. Last weekend, Fletcher ran for 152 yards and three scores on 30 carries, in addition to pulling down four balls for 34 yards. It was yet another stellar performance from Fletcher, who has rushed for a team-high 789 yards and nine scores this season.

Defensively, the Eagles haven't been as good as years past, but this unit has still done a decent job in limiting opposing teams to 24.7 ppg and 362.4 total ypg. The defense, which is giving up 142.7 ypg on the ground, has fared well in its attempt to create big plays, forcing 16 turnovers thus far. Last weekend, USM surrendered 408 total yards to Marshall, but it made up for many of those yards by forcing four turnovers, including three interceptions. Brandon Sumrall led the charge with a 15-tackle performance, while Martavius Prince added two sacks and a fumble recovery. For the year, Prince leads the team with 9.5 TFLs and 6.5 sacks, and Gerald McRath is tops on the club with 82 tackles.

This should be a good one, as both clubs rely heavily on their standout tailback to carry the offense. USM though, has the edge on defense and that, along with homefield advantage, is why the Eagles should win this game.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Southern Mississippi 30, UCF 24

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Re: Sunday College Football

Alone in the spotlight: Central Florida at Southern Mississippi

If it’s Sunday, it must be C-USA football.

This week’s Conference USA Sunday night contest is a beauty, as the two schools most likely to win the East Division clash in Hattiesburg. The Central Florida Knights are 3-point road underdogs against the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles. The total is set at 58 ½ points.

Sunday is usually the NFL’s day to rule the boob tube. But, without a Sunday night game this week, the Knights and Golden Eagles control the football airwaves.

This game will feature an interesting battle between running backs Kevin Smith and Damion Fletcher.

Central Florida and Southern Mississippi have played under the total only three times between them this season. However, I’m expecting that number to rise after Sunday night.

Both teams are going to run the ball, as both coaches have hyped the game as a battle to be won and lost in the trenches. A look at the personnel says the coaches aren’t kidding.

Smith has more rushing yards than Kyle Israel, the Knights’ quarterback, has passing yards. Smith is averaging 155 rushing yards and two touchdowns per game this season. He was easily the Knights’ most dangerous weapon when UCF made its biggest splash of the season against Texas. UCF is serious about trying to win the division and that means many carries for Smith.

Southern Mississippi will also run on Sunday, and not just because Fletcher is its best player.

Stephen Reaves starts at quarterback again, although head coach Jeff Bower says regular starter Jeremy Young will be available if needed. But Reaves will miss the Eagles’ top target, as leading receiver Chris Johnson broke his arm against Marshall last week.

Tight end Shawn Nelson, Southern Mississippi’s top red zone target, missed Friday’s practice with a virus and isn’t a sure bet to start Sunday.

These schools last met at M.M. Roberts Stadium during the 2005 campaign when Southern Mississippi outlasted Central Florida, 52-31.  Southern Miss built a 45-7 halftime lead, so UCF’s ground game was a non-factor.

That wasn’t the case last year in Orlando when Southern Miss won a 19-14 nail-biter. Smith and Fletcher each topped 100 rushing yards in a game more indicative of the tempo we’ll see on Sunday night. The Eagles returned an interception to the end zone in the fourth quarter to win the game, but the Knights covered as 6-point home underdogs.

Though both teams have been involved in many high-scoring games this season, their recent outings are more telling of what to expect on Sunday.

UCF held ultra-quick Tulsa to 23 points in its last outing, finally displaying the defensive gumption necessary to contend for the conference title. Southern Miss has won its last two games by shutting opponents down early and grinding the clock down once a lead was built.

When the SEC or the Big Ten features a pair of running teams against each other, the total usually sits in the low 40s. Sunday night’s total of 58 ½ is disproportionately high for the style of game we’ll see.

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