Southern Miss Golden Eagles at #17 Nebraska Cornhuskers
Saturday, September 1, 2012, 3:30 pm Eastern, TV: ABC or ESPN2
Memorial Stadium – Lincoln, Nebraska
Opening Line: Nebraska -15 1/2
Current Line: Nebraska -19 1/2
Opening Total: 54
Current Total: 53
Opening Money Line: Nebraska -900 / Southern Miss +650
Current Money Line: Nebraska -1200 / Southern Miss +800
Nebraska and Southern Mississippi meet for the fourth time ever Saturday in Lincoln. Nebraska leads the series 2-1, but they haven’t played since 2004. The Golden Eagles upset the Cornhuskers in that 2004 meeting 21-17. At the time, it was Nebraska’s first non-conference home loss 1n 13 years.
Last season Southern Miss, coached by Larry Fedora, finished 12-2 and won the Conference USA Championship game by upsetting then undefeated Houston on the road 49-28. The Golden Eagles then went on to beat Nevada 24-17 in the Hawaii Bowl. The only two losses were to Marshall and UAB by a total of 9 points. Southern Miss had wins over WAC champion Louisiana Tech and the Virginia from the ACC . At the end of the season Fedora accepted the head coaching job at North Carolina. Southern Miss then brought in South Carolina defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson as head coach.The Golden Eagles were 8-4-2 ATS last season and the total was 6-8 last season.
Nebraska moved from the Big 12 to the Big Ten last year. The Cornhuskers, coached by Bo Pelini, finished 9-4 last year and 5-3 in the Big Ten Leaders division. The Cornhuskers had losses to Wisconsin, Northwestern, Michigan, and South Carolina 30-13 in the Capital One Bowl. Nebraska had wins over Washington, Wyoming, Ohio St, Michigan St, Iowa and Penn St. The Huskers were 4-8-1 ATS and the total was 5-8 last season.
Southern Miss must also replace quarterback Austin Davis who threw for almost 3,500 yards, with 30 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. He also ran for 352 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Junior Chris Campbell will take over at quarterback for Austin. The Golden Eagles must also replace leading rusher Jamal Woodyard, but Southern Miss returns 4 players with at least 59 carries last year. Tracy Lampley had over 1,000 combined rushing and receiving yards with 7 total touchdowns. He is also a dangerous kick and punt returner, and scored on a punt return last year.
The defense must replace it’s top linebackers, from a top 30 defense last year. There shouldn’t be much of a drop-off under the guidance of longtime defensive guru Johnson. Southern Miss had an incredible 13 defensive/special teams not counting punt or kick returns last year. The defense will be led by defensive lineman Jamie Collins who had 19.5 tackles for loss, including 6.5 sacks. Safety Jacorius Cotton had 98 tackles last year.
The Nebraska offense will once again be led by quarterback Taylor Martinez and running back Rex Burkhead. Martinez had just under 3,000 combined rushing and passing yards, with 22 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Burkhead had 287 carries, 1,357 yards, and 15 touchdowns. He also caught 2 touchdown passes last year.
Nebraska’s defense faded to #37 in the country after having a top ten defense the previous two years. John Papuchis takes over as defensive coordinator after Bo Pelini’s brother Carl left to take the head coach position at Florida Atlantic.
Southern Miss is 8-2-2 ATS overall, 5-1 in road games, and 1-4-1 on field turf. Nebraska is 3-7 ATS on fieldturf, 2-6 at home, 1-3-1 overall, 1-4 against C-USA teams, in non-conference games, and in September.
Nebraska has won 26 straight season openers, all by double digits. That shouldn’t change here as Southern Miss is breaking in a new quarterback. Nebraska wins but I could see Southern Miss hanging around for the back door cover. The line originally started off at -15.5 but has moved to -19.5. I like those extra 4 points with the Golden Eagles.
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