Primetime College Football: Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles taking on the University of Louisville Cardinals in the 3rd annual St. Petersburg Bowl but first under the sponsorship of Beef ‘O’ Brady’s at Tropicana Field.
Southern Miss, 8-4, 5-3 C-USA, is making a postseason appearance for the ninth straight season with a team that racked up eight wins this year but their year began and ended the same way, with a loss. After falling to South Carolina in their opener, the Golden Eagles responded with four straight wins. However, the regular season closed out with a 56-50 loss to Tulsa.
The Golden Eagles are no strangers to playing in bowls, having made a postseason showing in 12 of the last 13 years but head coach Larry Fedora has an offense that is very potent on the ground and through the air this year. Taking care of the passing attack is Austin Davis, who completed over 60 percent of his throws this season and averaged 241.5 ypg. He threw for 18 touchdowns while tossing only 6 interceptions. Johdrick Morris was Davis favorite target with his team best 46 receptions for 663 yards and it came from the tight end spot.
There is not one main option that Southern Miss relies on in the ground game that produced 203.4 ypg. The running game showcased a few talented backs like Kendrick Hardy, who ran for 855 yards and 7 touchdowns while Desmond Johnson, had 509 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Louisville, 6-6, 3-4 Big East, head coach Charlie Strong did not have an overly impressive inaugural season, but still claimed Co-Coach of the Year honors in the Big East along with Connecticut’s Randy Edsall. The Cardinals have the potential on the roster to possess a balanced attack, but that was not the case, who fell way short of expectations in 2010. A major reason for the team’s short-comings was due to injuries to a couple of key players in Bilal Powell and Adam Froman. Powell only missed one game on the year, but spent most of the season dealing with nagging injures. However, that did not stop the running back from rumbling for 1,330 yards and 10 touchdowns on 6.3 yards per attempt.
Froman’s injury was much more severe, and kept the quarterback from competing in four games, while limiting him in other key matchups. In eight games Froman completed over 60 percent of his throws and tossed 11 touchdowns against 4 interceptions. However, in Froman’s absence Justin Burke, performed admirably throwing 8 touchdowns and completed 56.7 percent of his passes
The former conference rivals are meeting for the first time in the postseason with Southern Miss leading the all-time series 18-9-1. Southern Miss is 9-11 all-time in bowl games and is coming off last years 42-32 loss to Middle Tennessee in the New Orleans Bowl. This will be Louisville’s first postseason appearance since the 2007 Orange Bowl and is 6-7-1 all time in bowl games.
PICK: Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles