The 2011 college football bowl season continues this weekend with Christmas Eve action featuring the Nevada Wolf Pack (7-5) of the Western Athletic Conference traveling to Honolulu, HI to take on the 22nd ranked Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (11-2) of Conference USA this Saturday evening (8:00pm ET). Nevada won their season finale by a score of 56-3 against Idaho to cover a 17.5 point line and end a two-game losing streak. Southern Miss. won the Conference USA Championship Game over previously undefeated Houston 49-28 as a 12 point underdog to win their first league title since 2003. Nevada is 5-7 ATS this season while Southern Miss. is 8-4-1 ATS.
The Wolf Pack offense ranks 5th nationally in total offense with an average of 522.8 yards per game and averages 32.9 points per contest to rank 31st in the nation in that category. On defense, Nevada has allowed an average of 25.2 PPG to rank 58th in the nation in scoring defense, while ranking 52nd in total defense with an average of 372 YPG allowed. Southern Miss. features an explosive offense with QB Austin Davis (3,331 yards passing, 28 TDs, 11 INTs) running the show for a unit that ranks 14th nationally in scoring offense with an average of 37.8 PPG and 13th in total offense with 471 YPG on average. The Golden Eagles’ defense has allowed 21.1 PPG (29th among FBS teams) and an average of 345.3 YPG to rank 31st in the country in that category.
Nevada vs. Southern Mississippi Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Nevada Wolf Pack +8.5
@Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles -8.5
Over 62.5 (-110)
Under 62.5 (-110)
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Nevada vs. Southern Mississippi Pick:
Nevada is 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games overall and 0-4 ATS in their last 4 bowl games. Southern Miss. is 8-2-1 ATS in their last 11 games overall and 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games against a team with a winning record. The under is 4-1 in Nevada’s last 5 bowl games and 5-2 in their last 7 December games. The over is 4-0 in the Golden Eagles’ last 4 December games and 4-1 in their last 5 games overall. There are no recent meetings between the two teams.
Southern Mississippi is vulnerable against the pass, ranking 70th in the nation with 232.7 YPG allowed, but Nevada features the running game more than the passing game with dual-threat freshman QB Cody Fajardo (1,47 yards passing 6 TDs, 680 yards rushing 11 TDs) and lacks the big-play weapons to take advantage of the Golden Eagles’ problems in the secondary. Fajardo missed the regular season finale with an ankle injury, but is expected to play in this game. Southern Miss’ Davis should be able to take advantage of a Wolf Pack secondary that ranks in the middle of the pack (63rd) in pass defense with 226.6 Southern Miss’ QB Davis should be able to take advantage of a Wolf Pack secondary that ranks in the middle of the pack (63rd) in pass defense with 226.6 YPG allowed. The Golden Eagles exploded offensively in their last two games with 44 and 49 points respectively against an over-matched Memphis squad and Houston, when Davis averaged 8.2 yards per pass attempt against a decent secondary for what was then the 11th ranked team in the country. Southern Miss is the superior team in this game, Nevada is in somewhat of a rebuilding year with a young QB and suspect defense, take the Golden Eagles to cover here.