Nebraska looking for a feel-good win against Southern Miss

Published 9:30 am Friday, September 25, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. – Southern Mississippi would seem the perfect tonic for a Nebraska team coming off another close loss.

Saturday’s game is at home and the Golden Eagles have lost 33 of their last 39, including six in a row against opponents from the Power Five conferences.

The Cornhuskers (1-2) are in no position to look past any opponent, though, not after losing to BYU at home on a Hail Mary and in overtime at Miami last week.

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The record doesn’t necessarily show it, but Southern Miss (2-1) is an improving program under third-year coach Todd Monken. The Eagles played Mississippi State tough in their opener and has scored 108 points the last two weeks, albeit against FCS Austin Peay and relatively new FBS program Texas State.

“We’re not about to go out there and play some scrubs,” Huskers offensive lineman Chongo Kondolo said. “They’re a team that will beat us if we go out there flat and not ready to play.”

The Eagles are averaging almost 42 points a game to rank 23rd nationally. Their defense, however, is giving up 30 points a game to rank 90th, and they’ve surrendered a total of 486 yards on the ground against their two FBS opponents.

Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. said he expects Southern Miss to provide more of a challenge than it did two years ago, when Nebraska beat the Eagles 56-13 in Lincoln.

“We’ve got to make sure we study them as well as we can and just make sure that we prepare for anything because coming off a loss like this (against Miami), we’ve got to make sure we bounce back right,” Armstrong said.

Southern Miss junior quarterback Nick Mullens has been sharp, for the most part, completing 64 percent of his passes for 306 yards a game and eight touchdowns. He played the last two series of the 2013 meeting, throwing the last of his team’s four interceptions. Mullens became the starter four games later, and Southern Miss finished 1-11.

“We went up there a couple years ago and didn’t put our best foot forward,” Monken said, “but we are significantly better now than we were then.”

By ERIC OLSON, AP College Football Writer