Can Southern Miss's potent offense move the ball on Washington's physical defense in the Heart of Dallas Bowl?
Washington (6–6) vs. Southern Miss (9–4)
Dec. 29, 2:20 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Reason to watch
The Heart of Dallas Bowl delivers a matchup between Conference USA runner up Southern Miss and one of the better Pac-12 defenses in Washington. Southern Miss ranks 12th in the nation in passing yards, averaging 336 yards per game, and 11th in scoring (40.6 points). Washington got to bowl-eligibility with back-to-back wins at the end of the season including an upset of in-state rival Washington State. The Huskies held the Cougars, who leads the nation in passing yards, to just 10 points in the Apple Cup. Now Washington seeks its first bowl victory under head coach Chris Petersen.
Keep an eye on: Southern Miss quarterback Nick Mullens and running backs Jalen Richard and Ito Smith
Mullens is seventh in the nation in passing yards with 4,125, and his 36 touchdowns this season tie him for fourth in the nation. Both Richard and Smith have rushed for over 1,000 yards this season but must now face a Washington defense that has allowed an average of 133.9 rushing yards per game.
Did you know...?
Mullens passed Brett Favre for second place in passing yards in school history in the Golden Eagles’ 56–31 victory over Old Dominion on Nov. 21. He sits behind current Cleveland Browns quarterback Austin Davis, who also holds the school record for career touchdowns with 83. The junior broke Davis’s school record for passing touchdowns in a season this year when he tossed touchdown No. 31 against Rice.
The Huskies have the momentum heading into Saturday’s game, with the Golden Eagles coming off a 45–28 loss against Western Kentucky in the Conference USA championship game. Despite Southern Miss's multiple offense threats, it will be facing one of the tougher defenses on its schedule since falling to Mississippi State 34–16 in its season opener.
Although the Golden Eagles might be overmatched at times, a win against a Power 5 opponent would give them their first 10-win season since 2011, Larry Fedora's last year before moving to North Carolina.