When: Dec. 24, 2011 | 8:00 PM ET
Where: Aloha Stadium; Honolulu, HI
Betting Line: Southern Miss (-6.5)
Predicted Score: Southern Miss 33, Nevada 27
Southern Miss Breakdown
Southern Miss finished the regular season 10-2 and took first in the Conference USA eastern division. In the C-USA Championship, the Golden Eagles took down undefeated Houston in one of the year's most stunning upsets.
The Golden Eagles have a well-balanced offense led by senior quarterback Austin Davis. Davis has thrown for 3,331 yards and 28 touchdowns, while rushing for another 332 yards and four scores.
They have a rushing attack that averages over 200 yards per game, but isn't led by any one player.
Six players have at least 59 carries; and each of them have scored between two and four touchdowns. No player has over 107 carries.
Southern Miss also boosts a very good defense.
They allow just over 21 points per game, which is good for 29th in the nation.
They held Houston's high-powered offense, which averaged over 50 points per game, to only 28 points in the Conference USA Championship.
The Golden Eagles rank in the Top 31 teams in the country in passing offense, rushing offense, scoring offense and scoring defense.
The Wolf Pack came into this season with little expected of them, having lost their two best players, quarterback Colin Kaepernick and running back Vai Taua, to the NFL.
Nevada has not only exceeded expectations by going 7-5 and making a bowl game—they have one of the nation’s best offenses, averaging over 520 yards per game.
They run an insert-player-here offense.
Instead of one guy leading their offense, they use two quarterbacks (Cody Fajardo is the starter), both of whom are duel threats.
They have three players with over 100 rush attempts and seven players with 100 rushing yards or more.
Nevada's defense ranks second in the WAC in total defense (372.0 yards), passing defense (226.6 yards) and interceptions (15).
Star defensive tackle Brett Roy anchors their defense; he leads the conference in sacks with 10 and in tackles for a loss with 18.5.
Many people see the records of these two teams and expect Nevada to get destroyed, but I wouldn't count on that.
Southern Miss has been one of the country's best non-AQ schools all season, but they have two inexplicable losses to Marshall (6-6) and UAB (3-9).
If they play sloppy, as they did in those two games, then this game could get ugly for the Eagles, though they should be rested up and ready for this bowl.
The Wolf Pack have a high powered and confusing offense, but when facing good defenses, as the Golden Eagles have, their inexperience shows.
This game could be a lot closer than it seems on paper, but the Golden Eagles will come out on top.