Could there be a miracle Saturday night in Hattiesburg…
Can’t tell you how many times lately I’ve been asked: “Does USM have a chance?” or “What’s going to happen in Hattiesburg?”
Well, it rained here in Fondren yesterday for the first time since July 4, so anything is possible.
But back to the question: This is college football. Anything really is possible.
Not always likely.
Big underdogs win every week of the college football season. Mississippi football history is littered with upsets bigger than this one would be. It takes a combination of turnovers and big plays in the kicking game. It takes the underdog playing at its highest level and the favorite making mistakes, lots.
First off: Southern Miss will be better this season. Todd Monken has more and better athletes. You can just look at them and tell the difference new strength and conditioning coach Zac Woodfin has made.
Count me among those who believe USM would have won six games or more last season had the Eagles not lost their starting quarterback against Louisiana Tech.
I don’t think this will be a 49-0 walkover like it was last year in Starkville.
That said, State has more and better athletes. Part of the reason why USM’s talent has been down in recent years lies in the fact Dan Mullen has done such a good job of evaluating and recruiting two-star and three-star players with whom USM used to make a living.
Plus, State has the X factor in Dak Prescott, who will be the best player on the field Saturday night. He is an experienced quarterback who should avoid the mistakes that cause the magnitude of upset this one would be.
I just don’t see him putting the ball on the ground three or four times or throwing a lot of passes to the other team.
But Dak’s not even the biggest reason it’s hard to see an upset Saturday night.
In Dan Mullen’s seven years at State — has it really been seven? — he has not lost a regular season game when he was favored by more than 3.. Think about it. Can you remember a time when a Mullen-coached State team lost a regular season game as a solid favorite? No, you can’t.
Under Mullen, there have been no Maines.
As for USM, this is a team that should get better as the season progresses. Monken and his staff have brought in so many new players it likely will take time for them to adjust to one another and to a new system. I will be surprised if we don’t see real progress over the course of the season.
A score Saturday night?
I don’t know. Maybe 38-17, something like that. Remember, State was ranked No.1 in the nation for a month last season. There was a reason…lots of reasons, actually. These guys are good.