HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss welcomes its first ranked opponent here when Western Athletic Conference foe and No. 15 Boise State comes to town this Saturday. Game time is set for 7 p.m., at Carlisle-Faulkner Field at Roberts Stadium.
This will be the second meeting between the two teams as Boise State took a 38-16 decision at home over the Golden Eagles. This will be the first trip to Hattiesburg for the Broncos who will be traveling over 3,000 miles for the game and are the first WAC opponent to play in Hattiesburg since Nevada came in to play in 1997. This game also caps off a three-game homestand for the Golden Eagles.
The last ranked team to play at The Rock was No. 4 California during the 2004 campaign and the Golden Eagles look to gain their first win over a ranked team at home since defeating TCU, 40-28, in 2003.
This week's matchup will be a battle of explosive offenses as both the Golden Eagles and the Broncos rank in the Top 20 nationally in total offense, holding down spots No. 17 and No. 20, respectively.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Davis looks to continue his stellar freshman season and extended his 200-plus passing yard game streak to five. Davis has thrown for over 200 yards in all five of his starts this season, the most ever for a freshman quarterback at Southern Miss. Through five games, Davis is already the fourth leading freshman passer with 1,265 yards. He moved past Brett Favre who had 1,264 in 1987. That record is owned by Heath Graham who threw for 1,603 yards during his freshman season in 1994.
Boise State, like Southern Miss, features a freshman quarterback in Kellen Moore who currently ranks No. 6 in the country in passing efficiency. Currently, Moore has completed 71.9 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns.
This game will also feature two of the premier running games in the country as Boise State is led by senior running back Ian Johnson, while Southern Miss will counter with Damion Fletcher.
Fletcher is currently ranked No. 7 in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 137 yards per game, and he leads all of Conference USA. Fletcher also broke the career rushing record at Southern Miss Saturday against UTEP. The previous record was held by Ben Garry who played for the Golden Eagles between 1974 and 1977 and rushed for 3,595. Fletcher currently has 3,654 yards over his first 31 games.
Following a dominant performance against UTEP, true freshman wide receiver DeAndre Brown leads the team in receiving yardage. Brown has 23 catches for 370 yards with three touchdowns. He, along with senior tight end Shawn Nelson, makes for a dangerous receiving threat that keep opposing defenses concerned. Nelson has added a team-best 31 catches for 341 yards and three touchdowns.
On defense, junior linebacker Gerald McRath continues to lead all of C-USA in tackles averaging 11.0 per game. He is tied for seventh nationally at tackles per game. Sophomore defensive back Chico Hunter also ranks seventh in tackles in C-USA with 40, averaging 8 per game.
The Golden Eagles have their work cut out for them as they face one of the most dominant football programs in the last decade. Boise State is currently 27-3 under third-year head coach Chris Petersen and sits at 4-0 on the year.
Tickets are still available for purchase at the Ferlise Athletic Ticket Center on the Southern Miss campus from 8-5 p.m., Monday-Friday or by calling 1-800-844-TICK (8425), as well as online at SouthernMiss.com. The Ferlise Ticket Center also will be open Saturday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., with tickets available at the stadium ticket offices beginning at 4 p.m.
The game can be heard on the Southern Miss ISP Sports Network with affiliates throughout the gulf coast. The game also will be broadcast on CBS College Sports (Channel 735 on Comcast Digital Cable in Hattiesburg) and on Sirius Satellite Radio on channel 107. The Southern Miss radio feed will be used for the Sirius broadcast.