Sunday, December 21, 2008

New Orleans Bowl: Southern Miss vs. Troy

December 21 * 8:15 PM * ESPN

At 2-6 not many envisioned the Golden Eagles making a bowl in their first season under headman Larry Fedora, who brought his offensive philosophies from Oklahoma St. However, seniors like tight end Shawn Nelson made sure Southern Miss would not end their bowl streak, extending it to seven in-a-row – a Conference USA record. In addition to Nelson, junior tailback Damion Fletcher and true freshman wide out DeAndre Brown have flourished with red-shirt freshman quarterback Austin Davis learning on the job. Defensively, junior linebacker Gerald McGrath is a man among boys. The Golden Eagles have won both of their bowl games versus Sun Belt opponents and are 4-0 when they play close to home in the state of Louisiana. Troy doesn’t have nearly as much bowl experience, having joined the FBS in 2001. Under coach Larry Blakeney the Men of Troy captured their third straight Sun Belt Championship, making their second bowl appearance in that span and third all-time. Troy won the New Orleans Bowl two years ago by knocking off Rice and they are no strangers to stepping up in competition having squared up against Ohio St., Oklahoma St. and LSU this season. Defensively they are chuck-full-of playmakers, led by Terence Moore, Brandon Lang, Sherrod Martin and Boris Lee.

Inside the Numbers – Pass, Run & Catch

Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (6-6, 4-4)

Pass: Austin Davis – 2,852 yards, 21 TDs
Run: Damion Fletcher – 1,235 yards, 9 TDs
Catch: DeAndre Brown – 66-1,108-12 TDs

Troy Trojans (8-4, 6-1)
Pass: Levi Brown – 1,775 yards, 14 TDs
Run: DuJuan Harris – 1,025 yards, 11 TDs
Catch: Jerrel Jernigan – 68-803-5 TDs

Photo Credit: University of Southern Mississippi Media Relations