MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Southern Miss (6-6, Sun Belt) vs Rice (5-7, Conference USA), Saturday, 5:45 p.m. EST, ESPN
FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK COLLEGE LINE: Southern Miss by 6 1/2.
Series record: Tied, 6-6.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Southern Miss wants to finish with a winning record and Rice is hoping to capitalize on its first bowl appearance since 2014. It's the Golden Eagles' third bowl game in Mobile, and they've won the first two. They haven't played in a bowl game since 2019. The only Rice player with bowl experience is placekicker Tim Horn. He handled kickoffs as a freshman at Washington in the 2019 Las Vegas Bowl.
Rice's blockers against a Southern Miss pass rush that ranks sixth nationally with 3.25 sacks per game and third with an average of 8.4 tackles for loss. Rice is led by veteran lineman Shea Baker. Southern Miss's Dominic Quewon has nine sacks while Averie Habas has 12 tackles for loss. Five players have at least three sacks. Rice is allowing 2.5 sacks a game, 85th nationally.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Southern Miss: RB Frank Gore Jr., son of former NFL running back Frank Gore Sr., has 1,053 yards and seven touchdowns rushing. He has 219 receiving yards while throwing for 172 yards and a pair of TDs.
Rice: WR Bradley Rozner has 41 catches for 834 yards and nine touchdowns. He's averaging 20.3 yards per catch and has five 100-yard games.
FACTS & FIGURES
Southern Miss WR Jason Brownlee is tied for No. 2 in program history with Mike Thomas and Quez Watkins with 10 career 100-yard receiving games. Brown's 20 career touchdown receptions ranks fourth. ... Rice has won the last two meetings after snapping Southern Miss's five-game streak, 30-6, in 2020. ... The first meeting, in 2007, resulted in a 31-29 Rice win. Current Cincinnati Bengals tight ends coach James Casey played seven positions in the game. ... Rice offensive lineman Shea Baker will play in his 55th consecutive game and make his 54th career start, matching the school record set by Gabe Baker (no relation) from 2010-14.
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