Southern Miss fell to third-ranked Alabama, 52-12, Saturday night in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in a game that was over early in the third quarter.
However, the scoreboard was not truly indicative of how these two teams matched up. USM played much better than most expected, but just could not come through in clutch situations. Time after time, USM was able to put together solid drives, but could not figure out how to finish them off.
In the first half, the only thing the Alabama offense could really hang their hat on was quarterback Blake Sims connecting with wide receiver Amari Cooper. The tandem connected five times in the first half for 72 yards and a touchdown. Cooper finished the game with eight catches for 135 yards.
The Golden Eagle defense showed resiliency in the early going, making several key stops. Besides struggling to cover Cooper, the only other weakness was failing to contain Sims from scrambling outside the pocket. Sims carried the ball five times for 46 yards and a touchdown.
But in the second half, Kenyon Drake and Derrick Henry could not be stopped by the Golden Eagles. Alabama just continued to get whatever they wanted on the ground in the second half.
Despite the red zone struggles, USM quarterback Nick Mullens performed very admirably. He was harassed all game, but continued to fight and make plays for the USM offense. But his receivers did not help much, dropping several key passes, particularly early in the game when the score was still close. Mullens finished the game completing 19-35 for 207 yards, without a touchdown or an interception.
With the offense being inept in the red zone, senior kicker Corey Acosta benefitted greatly. He tied his career-high with four made field goals, which he set last week.
USM failed to run the ball effectively throughout as Tez Parks led the team with just 22 yards rushing on two carries.
Southern Miss is now 1-2 on the season and will play host to Appalachian State next Saturday night at 6 p.m.