Mustangs host Southern Miss Saturday, fight for West division
Published: Thursday, November 8, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
SMU is coming off of a disappointing 42-17 defeat at the hands of University of Central Florida (UCF) last weekend and is now in a true must-win situation as the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles come to Ford Stadium Saturday with SMU’s West Division title hopes on the line.
“We’re in what we call ‘desperation beast mode.’ We know we have to win,” senior running back Zach Line said.
The Mustangs are 3-2 in C-USA this season while fellow West Division member Tulsa is 5-0. The Hurricanes play UCF this weekend and if the Knights can beat Tulsa, SMU will have a shot at a West Division title when the team plays Tulsa in the final game of the regular season.
The Mustangs welcome the winless Golden Eagles in a game that can get the Mustangs on the right track after UCF’s win.
Southern Miss beat SMU last year in Hattiesburg, Miss. 27-3, but lost all of its key pieces — including head coach Larry Fedora.
SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert will need to rebound from his poor performance against the Knights, where he threw for just 133 yards and had a completion percentage around 50 percent.
The Mustangs count on Line to produce. Line had 147 total yards, and led the team in receiving and rushing against the Knights.
With the teams’ back against the wall, Gilbert knows this is the beginning of the biggest three games of the season for SMU.
"We've got a must-win mentality. We need to win our last three games and it starts with this one. We're a very focused team," Gilbert said.
Southern Miss would love to play the spoiler role, but the team’s offense will need to step up.
Golden Eagles’ quarterback Anthony Alford has passed for 550 yards and zero touchdowns this season.
Southern Miss has two receivers in Tracy Lampley and Dominique Sullivan who have just over 200 yards each.
Southern Miss has two running backs that are averaging over five yards per carry each but have seen limited carries due to the Golden Eagles getting down early to opponents.
Desmond Johnson and Jalen Richard have combined for 759 yards and six touchdowns this year, but face an SMU defense that is fuming after being gashed by UCF’s Latavius Murray last week for over 150 yards.
If SMU can control the clock and shut down the Southern Miss offense like so many teams have done this season, SMU should be back on the right track and continue to have some hope for getting into the conference championship game.