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Golden Eagles and Cowboys Clash For Third Time In Houston Bowl
HOUSTON, Texas -- The Southern Miss Golden Eagles and Oklahoma State Cowboys will meet for the third time, in as many years, this Friday at Noon, when they face off in the Houston Bowl at Reliant Stadium, televised live on ESPN.
The two teams met for the first time in 2000 in Stillwater with the Golden Eagles winning, 28-6. The rematch was played in Hattiesburg in 2001 as Southern Miss spoiled Les Miles' coaching debut, winning 17-9.
The Golden Eagles come into the Houston Bowl with a 7-5 overall record and a 5-3 Conference USA record, tying with Louisville for third place. Southern Miss opened the season with three wins over Jackson State (55-7), Illinois (23-20) and Memphis (33-14), spread out wins over Army (27-6), Cincinnati (23-14) and UAB (20-13) before finishing the regular season with a 24-7 victory over East Carolina.
Oklahoma State comes into the Houston Bowl with a 7-5 overall record and a 5-3 record in Big XII play. They enter the game on a high note after winning three straight games, including a 38-28 win over Oklahoma. The Cowboys also enjoyed wins over Northern Iowa (45-10), SMU (52-16), Nebraska (24-21), Texas A&M (28-23), Kansas (55-20) and Baylor (63-28) before closing out the regular season with the win over rival Oklahoma.
Southern Miss enters the bowl game without the services of its leading ball carrier, Derrick Nix, who has had further complications from the kidney ailment that plagued him for a year and a half. The first-team All-Conference USA performer finished the regular season with 1,194 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. He finished his career 12 yards shy of the school rushing record and 53 yards shy of the conference career record.
The Golden Eagles are averaging 21.6 points a game and 333.2 yards in total offense, 143.3 yards rushing and 189.8 yards passing. Southern Miss finished with over 300 yards in total offense in each of the last four games.
The defense ranks No. 11 in scoring defense, giving up 17.1 points a game, No. 2 in pass efficiency defense and No. 5 in pass defense, giving up 157.1 yards a game passing and a nation-leading four passing touchdowns. The Golden Eagles are also No. 25 in total offense, giving up 322.0 yards a game.
Carrying the running load for the Golden Eagles will be James Walley, Anthony Harris and Steel Adams. Walley, who gets the starting nod, finished with 52 carries for 182 yards, an average of 3.5 yards a carry and scored a touchdown. He filled in for Nix in the UAB game and finished with 100 yards rushing and scored a touchdown. Harris is the team's second-leading rusher, carrying the ball 76 times for 318 yards, an average of 4.2 yards a carry and scored four touchdowns. Adams was used in a limited role during the season and could see action in the bowl game.
Micky D'Angelo will start at quarterback for the Golden Eagles after finishing the season with three-straight games of 200 yards or more passing. He completed 122-of-231 passes for 1,647 yards and has thrown for seven touchdowns. In his last outing, he completed 12-of-22 passes for 208 yards and threw one touchdown against East Carolina. Dustin Almond could see action as well, finishing with 52 completions in 111 attempts for 584 yards and threw three touchdowns. A mobile quarterback, Almond has scored two rushing touchdowns, including one in the last game against ECU.
Chris Johnson, Marvin Young and LeRoy Handy leads the Golden Eagles receiving corps. Chris Johnson has 45 catches for 606 yards, an average of 13.5 yards a catch, and has caught three touchdowns. Young has 40 catches for 607 yards, an average of 15.2 yards a catch and leads the team with six touchdowns. Handy, the school's career third-leading receiver, has 37 catches for 516 yards, an average of 13.9 yards per catch.
All-American linebacker Rod Davis leads the Golden Eagles defense with 157 tackles, including 116 solo stops, 10.5 sacks and a school-record 23.5 tackles for loss. He is nationally ranked No. 2 in solo tackles, No. 5 in total tackles, No. 11 in tackles for loss and tied for No. 20 in sacks. Davis leads the conference in tackles and sacks and is second in tackles for loss.
All-American free safety Etric Pruitt leads the Golden Eagles in interceptions with six and is tied with cornerback Greg Brooks in pass breakups with 12. He is the team's third-leading tackler with 124 tackles, including 72 solo stops, seven tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. He also has three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and two punt blocks.
First-team All-Conference USA linebacker Michael Boley is the team's second-leading tackler with 134 tackles, including 87 solos, eight sacks and 16 tackles for loss. He also has an interception returned for a touchdown at Alabama and four pass breakups.
Oklahoma State is averaging 34.4 points a game, No. 16 in the nation, and 403.3 yards a game in total offense, 144.7 yards rushing and 258.7 yards passing. The Cowboys have scored 30 or more points six times, including the last three straight. They are third in the Big XII in total offense, third in passing offense and fourth in scoring offense.
The Cowboy defense is giving up 27.8 yards a game, No. 73 in the nation, including 405.2 yards a game (No. 87), 147.0 yards rushing (No. 49) and 258.2 yards passing (No. 105).
The Oklahoma State offense is led by quarterback Josh Fields, running back Tatum Bell and All-American receiver Rashaun Woods. Fields has completed 205-of-368 passes for 2,835 yards and thrown 29 touchdowns. He has eight 200-yard passing performances, including five straight and has thrown 14 touchdown passes in his last three games.
Bell leads the OSU ground game, running for 936 yards on 162 carries, an average of 5.8 yards per game and scored 10 touchdowns. He went over the century mark for the fifth time in the last six games with his 106-yard rushing effort against Oklahoma. Seymour Shaw is second on the team in rushing, carrying the ball 77 times for 461 yards, an average of 6.0 yards a carry and has scored five touchdowns.
Woods leads the Cowboys with 98 catches or 1,531 yards, an average of 15.6 yards a catch and scored 16 touchdowns. John Lewis is second on the team with 32 catches for 558 yards, an average of 17.4 yards a catch and has scored six touchdowns. Terrance Davis-Bryant is third on the team with 28 catches for 314 yards, an average of 11.2 yards a catch and scored a touchdown.
Linebacker Paul Duren leads Oklahoma State with 81 tackles, defensive back Elbert Craig has 76 total tackles and defensive back Chris Massey has totaled 64 tackles. Defensive lineman Greg Richmond leads the team in sacks with six and defensive lineman Kevin Williams leads the team in tackles for loss with 10. Defensive back Darrent Williams and Craig leads the team in interceptions and pass breakups with 11 and 10, respectively.
Massey has returned 19 kickoffs for 443 yards, an average of 23.3 yards per return with a long of 46 yards. Davis-Bryant is the team's punt returner, averaging 11.4 yards a return with a long of 39 yards.
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