College Football
Southern Mississippi vs UL Lafayette
When: 9:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 17, 2016
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana


1. Louisiana-Lafayette needed to win its final two games to become bowl eligible and did just that with triumphs over Arkansas State and Louisiana-Monroe in the last two weeks. Southern Miss, which will face the Ragin' Cajuns in the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 17, dropped three in a row beginning in November to fall out of the bowl picture before stunning Conference USA West champion Louisiana Tech in the regular-season finale to even its record. The Golden Eagles are making their second straight bowl appearance while Louisiana is back after missing out in 2015.

2. The Ragin' Cajuns should feel right at home in the Superdome after making four straight appearances in the New Orleans Bowl from 2011-14. Louisiana earned the win on the field in all four trips - beating San Diego State, East Carolina, Tulane and Nevada, but two of the victories were later vacated. Southern Miss lost to Washington in the Heart of Dallas Bowl last year and also is making its fifth appearance in the New Orleans Bowl after wins in 2004, 2005 and 2008 and a loss in 2009.

3. The Golden Eagles are led by senior quarterback Nick Mullens, who returned from a two-game absence due to a concussion in the regular-season finale and totaled four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) to help clinch the bowl berth. Mullen will go up against a Ragin' Cajuns pass defense that allowed opposing signal-callers to complete 62 percent of their throws during the regular season but have tightened things up of late. Louisiana surrendered 31 passing yards in its victory over Louisiana-Monroe.

TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Southern Miss -3.5

ABOUT SOUTHERN MISS (6-6, 4-4 Conference USA): Mullens is playing his final college game after setting a school record with 85 career touchdown passes and found a new weapon in the finale in Keon Howard. Howard, who started two games at quarterback while Mullens was out, shared the field against Louisiana Tech while serving as a receiving and a wildcat threat in the backfield. Running back Ito Smith rushed for 1,321 yards and 15 TDs while adding 42 receptions to an offense that averages 33.4 points.

ABOUT LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE (6-6, 5-3 Sun Belt): The Ragin' Cajuns will start a senior at quarterback as well in Anthony Jennings, who remarkably guided his team to a win in the regular-season finale without recording a passing yard (2-of-5 for zero yards). Running back Elijah McGuire rushed for over 1,000 yards for the third consecutive season and has recorded 52 career touchdowns (10 receiving). Louisiana turned things around on the defensive end down the stretch en route to bowl eligibility and totaled three defensive TDs in its final two games.

PREDICTION: Southern Miss 28, Louisiana-Lafayette 24
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W‑L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
Southern Mississippi 6-6 W1 33.2 30.2 4-2 2-4 1-2 5-3 4-4
UL Lafayette 6-6 W2 23.8 25.1 3-3 3-3 2-2 3-3 5-3
Last Meeting
Southern Mississippi UL Lafayette
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
8/30/08 ULL 21 SOMIS 51 633 427 206 394 263 131
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Southern Mississippi A. Davis 66.7 206 2 1
UL Lafayette M. Desormeaux 45.0 98 0 2
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Southern Mississippi D. Fletcher 21 222 10.6 2
UL Lafayette M. Desormeaux 16 146 9.1 0
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Southern Mississippi D. Brown 4 92 23.0 1
UL Lafayette J. Chery 3 47 15.7 0
Touchdowns Player TD
Southern Mississippi A. Davis 2
UL Lafayette T. Fenroy 1
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Southern Mississippi N. Mullens 63.4 2926 22 10
UL Lafayette A. Jennings 61.1 2083 11 12
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Southern Mississippi I. Smith 239 1321 5.5 15
UL Lafayette E. McGuire 215 1028 4.8 7
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Southern Mississippi A. Staggers 51 927 18.2 6
UL Lafayette A. Riles 55 665 12.1 2
Touchdowns Player TD
Southern Mississippi I. Smith 16
UL Lafayette E. McGuire 9
Quickchart Matchup
Southern Mississippi Southern Mississippi Off vs  UL Lafayette UL Lafayette Def
Southern Mississippi 474.9 yards
UL Lafayette 368.4 yards
Southern Mississippi 4.2 yards/rush
UL Lafayette 3.3 yards/rush
Southern Mississippi 8.1 yards/attempt
UL Lafayette 7.3 yards/attempt
UL Lafayette UL Lafayette Off vs  Southern Mississippi Southern Mississippi Def
UL Lafayette 365.9 yards
Southern Mississippi 333.8 yards
UL Lafayette 4 yards/rush
Southern Mississippi 4.8 yards/rush
UL Lafayette 6.9 yards/attempt
Southern Mississippi 7.5 yards/attempt