Southern Miss vs. Nevada: Betting the Spread for the Hawaii Bowl

Johnathan CaceCorrespondent IDecember 19, 2011

HOUSTON - DECEMBER 03:  Quarterback Austin Davis #12 (L) and Tim Green #43 and teammates of the Southern Miss Golden Eagles celebrate with the Conference USA trophy after defeating the Houston Cougars 49-28 at Robertson Stadium on December 3, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

With Hawaii not bowl eligible, the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl picked the Southern Miss and Nevada to play each other on Christmas Eve. The 11-2 Golden Eagles are a six point favorite over the 7-5 Wolf Pack per the Las Vegas odds.

Nevada lost a bunch of offensive talent from last year’s 13-1 squad but it hasn’t lost much in terms of offensive production. The Wolf Pack are averaging over 522 yards per game including over 250 yards rushing.

The problem is that their best running back Mike Ball was kicked off the team last month but Lampford Mark has been sensational as his replacement, going for over 100 yards in the last five games in Chris Ault’s signature “Pistol” offense. Watch out for Rishard Matthews at receiver because he is averaging 113 yards per game.

Nevada ranks right in the middle of the country in terms of defense though defensive end Brett Roy has 10 sacks and 21 total tackles for a loss.

Southern Miss is one of the most balanced teams in the country and has no glaring weakness. The offense runs through do-it-all quarterback Austin Davis who has 3,300 yards passing and 330 yards rushing. It averages 37 points per game while holding opponents to just 21.

On defense, the big play maker is linebacker Jamie Collins who has 94 tackles including 21 for a loss and 6.5 sacks. He also has eight pass breakups and an interception return for a touchdown.

The Golden Eagles have given up some big point totals to some explosive offenses and had trouble with Navy’s triple option but with so much time to prepare for the Pistol, expect them to get a solid win over the Wolf Pack and to cover.