Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Game Preview: Southern Mississippi - Alabama

After thumping the Florida Atlantic Owls by the tune of 41-0, the Alabama Crimson Tide will return to Bryant-Denny Stadium this Saturday to tangle with the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles.

While 'Bama is listed as almost a 50-point favorite, we can officially proclaim that Southern Mississippi is not the same team that your older brother grew up watching.

Expect the contest with USM to play out in virtually the same fashion as the game with FAU did just one week ago. Rotating quarterbacks and a clearing of the bench will likely be the rule of the day once kickoff strikes at 5 p.m. central time.

Betting Line: Alabama -48 (as of 9/10)

-Click HERE to track the line-

Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles

USM, under head coach Larry Fedora, concluded the 2011 season with a record of 12-2. All was right with the world.

And then the record stopped...

Fedora, quite the hot name in coaching at the time, departed for North Carolina and Southern Mississippi would embark on a downward spiral of epic proportions.

Ellis Johnson, the current defensive coordinator at Auburn, took over the USM program in 2012 as Fedora's replacement. Johnson led the Golden Eagles to an 0-12 season. 12-2 to 0-12. Almost seems impossible.

When Johnson was fired at the end of the season, Todd Monken, USM's current head coach, took over the program. Posting a record of 1-11 in 2013, the Golden Eagles were losers of 23 consecutive games before defeating UAB to end the 2013 season. USM was only four quarters away from having back-to-back winless seasons.

Again...these aren't your older brother's USM Golden Eagles.

As for the present, Southern Miss will enter Tuscaloosa with a record of 1-1. After losing to Mississippi State by the score of 49-0 in the season opener, the Golden Eagles rebounded in week two and held off Alcorn State 26-20.

The quest for positivity is currently a struggle in Hattiesburg when it comes to the USM football program. Whatever Larry Fedora discovered at Southern Miss when he led the Golden Eagles to a 12-2 season, he took it with him when he left.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama showed moderate improvement from week one to week two, but the level of competition likely played a major role in that observation.

In respect to this Saturday, as noted in the introduction, expect the Crimson Tide to essentially pick up where they left off against Florida Atlantic. Think of Saturday's game as the fifth quarter of the FAU contest.

Expect Blake Sims and Jake Coker to see ample time at the quarterback position and also look for younger players to see significant minutes in an effort to season the squad as a whole. A little spice never hurt a thing and bland teams don't win big games.

Speaking of big games, the Crimson Tide will tangle with Florida the week following the contest with USM, so this Saturday is the final opportunity to break out the ironing board and get rid of the wrinkles.

Game nuggets

-While wide receiver DeAndrew White (shoulder) did return to practice this week, Nick Saban informed the media, via Wednesday's SEC teleconference, that White will not play against Southern Mississippi.

-After exiting the contest with Florida Atlantic due to a bruised ankle, wide receiver Christion Jones should be ready for action this weekend against USM.


As mentioned above, Alabama's contest with Southern Mississippi is essentially the fifth quarter of the Florida Atlantic game.

Expect the Tide to control the contest while working on the basic fundamentals that will become so very important once conference season begins Sept. 20.

USM receives a check and Alabama improves to 3-0.

--- Alabama 56 Southern Mississippi 7 ---


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