NEW ORLEANS, Lou. - Southern Miss faces Sun Belt Conference Champion Troy in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl tonight at the Louisiana Superdome. Game time is slated for 7:15 p.m.
The Golden Eagles (6-6) will be in the hunt for their 15th consecutive winning season when they face off against the Trojans. Southern Miss is 2-0 against teams from the Sun Belt in bowl games and are also 6-4 in bowl games since becoming a member of Conference USA.
This will be only the seventh meeting between the teams. Southern Miss defeated Troy when they last played in Montgomery, Ala., in 1977. Southern Miss won that game, 42-19.
Troy (8-4) is riding a two-game winning streak into New Orleans, having defeated conference rivals Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas State to end the regular season. The Trojans outscored their opponents 83-12 in those final two games.
The Trojan offense is led by junior quarterback Levin Brown, who became the starter after game five when sophomore starter Jamie Hampton was injured. In seven starts, Brown has thrown 14 touchdowns with only 3 interceptions. He boasts a 61.8 completion percentage and has amassed 1,775 passing yards. Brown has led the Trojan offense to a No. 26 ranking in total offense (421.42 yards per game).
Troy's biggest offensive threat, though, is in sophomore fullback DuJuan Harris. Harris is the Trojans leading rusher with 1,025 yards on the ground on 191 carries and scored 11 touchdowns.
On defense, Troy features a tenacious set of linemen led by junior defensive end Brandon Lang. Lang is tied for No. 11 nationally in sacks (9.5) and No. 13 nationally in tackles for loss (16.5). As a unit, the Trojan defense is ranked No. 30 in total defense (319.6) and No. 31 in scoring defense (20.6).
For the Eagles, defense has been the name of the game over the past four games. The Eagles have not allowed a team to gain more than 96 yards on the ground and have not allowed a single rushing touchdown during their four-game winning streak. Only one time, against SMU, was an opponent able to amass more than 200 yards of passing offense.
Redshirt junior linebacker Gerald McRath and senior linebacker Tokumbo Abanikanda pace the team in tackles with 126 and 73, respectively. McRath carries with him a lead in C-USA in tackles, averaging 10.5 per game, and is tied for 10th nationally.
The offense, like is has been for much of the season, continued to shine down the stretch and will look to put plenty of points on the scoreboard against the Trojans. Redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Davis, along with freshman wide receiver DeAndre Brown, earned numerous accolades and honors prior to the bowl season.
Brown, who earned first-team Freshman All-American honors by Rivals.com and Phil Steele's Magazine, leads the team with 66 receptions for 1,108 yards and 12 touchdowns, all of which are freshman records at Southern Miss. The Ocean Springs, Miss., was also tabbed the Conference USA Freshman of the Year by the Sporting News.