By Zac Ellis
December 22, 2011

No. 22 Southern Miss (11-2) vs. Nevada (7-5)Dec. 24, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Reason to watch: The paradise of the Hawaiian Islands will serve as the backdrop for Larry Fedora's Southern Miss farewell. The Golden Eagles' head coach accepted the same position at North Carolina two weeks ago but will close out his four-year tenure with Southern Miss at Aloha Stadium against Nevada, which is playing in its seventh consecutive bowl game. Fedora's Golden Eagles capped an 11-2 season with a 49-28 Conference USA Championship win over Houston, spoiling the Cougars' undefeated season and BCS bowl hopes. There are mixed feelings regarding Fedora's departure in Hattiesburg, so a bowl win could help turn the tide of popular opinion.

Keep an eye on: Southern Miss quarterback Austin Davis, who put together a prolific year in Fedora's spread offense, which rang up nearly 38 points per game this season. The senior threw for 3,331 yards and 28 touchdowns, including a four-touchdown showing against Houston. Meanwhile, Nevada All-America defensive tackle Brett Roy will anchor the Wolf Pack's pass rush. Roy tallied 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss this season, both tops in the WAC.

Did you know: This will mark Nevada's third appearance in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl since 2005. The Wolf Pack nipped Central Florida 49-45 that year before falling to SMU 45-10 in 2009.

Final analysis: This matchup has all the makings of a shootout. Nevada is fifth in the nation in total offense, averaging just more than 522 yards per game, while Southern Miss ranks 13th with 471 total yards per game. But Davis has the Golden Eagles' offense hitting its stride, averaging 41.3 points in its last three games compared to Nevada's 23.6. Plus, no victory on the Wolf Pack's schedule can match Southern Miss's 21-point drubbing of Houston, its most recent win. Fedora will go out on top in Honolulu.

The pick: Southern Miss 34, Nevada 28

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)