What you need to know: Rice

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Quarterback Nick Mullens looks for an opening to pass the ball against Savannah State on Sept. 10, 2016.

Offensive potency

Although it has been a tough schedule up to this point with Rice, going up against Western Kentucky, Army, Baylor and even North Texas, the Owls have not been able to much going on offense. Despite putting up 35 points against North Texas last week, the Owls have not put up more than 14 points in their first three contests of the season.

The offense’s run game is potent, evidenced by the 4.4 yard average the team runs on a carry. Running back Darik Dillard is listed as questionable for the game at USM, but the committee will be ready to battle against a USM defense that has allowed 3.4 yards per carry.

Defensive breakdown

It wil be reluctant to not notice that Southern Miss is averaging 41.2 points per game, while Rice on the other hand allows 39.2 yards per game.

Specifically in the second and fourth quarters, the Owls have been outscored 83-32 in just those  time periods alone. Southern Miss is a team that has ruled the second half, evidenced by the comeback against Kentucky in the season opener and the near comeback against Troy in the Golden Eagles’ lone loss.

Emmanuel Ellerbee, the linebacker hailing from Strake Jesuit in Houston, leads the team in tackles with 42 and is second on the team in tackles for loss with 3.5. Ellerbee will be everywhere on the field on Saturday, and should play a big role in the running of Ito Smith/George Payne.

Player to Watch

Nick Mullens had a relative bounce-back game with a 16-for-27 throwing performance for 176 yards and three touchdowns. Mullens has not had the year he had last year so far, but the performance against UTEP can be a catapult for him to regain last year’s statistical output.

It takes time to put together a nearly fresh receiving core, and a senior quarterback together. The influx of Isaiah Jones, Allenzae Staggers and the return of Marquise Ricard and Tyre’oune Holmes will take an adjustment for the Southern Miss offense.

Prediction: Southern Miss 42, Rice 14