Football Game Notes - The Southern Miss Game

Oct. 11, 2005

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ORLANDO - Conference USA's only undefeated team in league play takes to the road this week as the UCF Golden Knights (3-2, 2-0 C-USA) visit Southern Miss (2-2, 1-1 C-USA) in a showdown in Hattiesburg, Miss. The Golden Knights have won three straight games - the longest winning streak of any C-USA school - after last week's 38-17 triumph over Memphis at the Florida Citrus Bowl.

Southern Miss was dealt a rare home conference loss at the hands of Tulsa 34-17 last Saturday in Hattiesburg.

The UCF ISP Sports Network begins pregame coverage at 5 p.m. with kickoff set for 7 p.m. The voice of the Golden Knights Marc Daniels will handle the play-by-play duties while Gary Parris provides color commentary and Jerry O'Neill patrols the sidelines. The radio broadcast is also available at ucfathletics.com.

The game will be televised on the CSTV All-Access package (Internet, DISH Network pay-per-view). Bright House Network digital cable subscribers in Orlando can purchase the game on pay-per-view.

Series Notes
UCF and Southern Miss will meet for the first time Saturday. The Golden Knights are 0-2 vs. schools from the state of Mississippi. UCF lost 24-23 in overtime at Ole Miss and 35-28 at Mississippi State during the 1997 season.

One of Only Three in NCAA History
Only three teams in NCAA history have won three straight games after going 0-11 the previous season. UCF, South Carolina and Boston College are the only schools to record a winning streak of three or more games just one season after going 0-11.

The Gamecocks won four in a row in 2000 to start the season and added a three-game winning streak later that same year. Boston College tallied three straight victories in 1979 after going 0-11 in 1978.

Who would have known?
In preseason polls, UCF was ranked as high as fourth in the Eastern Division of Conference USA, including being picked tied for last in the division in the C-USA preseason poll. Entering this weekend, UCF is the only undefeated team in C-USA play, leading the East Division with a perfect 2-0 record.

On Fire in the First Quarter
Steven Moffett has been sensational during the first quarter in 2005. The junior quarterback has completed 21-of-28 passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns in the first quarter this season. Moffett is completing 75 percent of his passes and has not thrown an interception during the first 15 minutes of play.

Making a Name for Himself
True freshman TB Kevin Smith showed Conference USA what most of his teammates already know - the young guy can run the football. Facing the nation's leading rusher in Memphis' DeAngelo Williams, Smith led all players with a career-high 164 yards in UCF's 38-17 victory over the Tigers.

Smith set career-highs in rushing yards and attempts (31) in the victory.

Back-to-Back 100-Yard Games
Kevin Smith became the first UCF true freshman to record back-to-back 100-yard games since Gerod Davis did so in the final two games of the 1992 season.

Smith rushed for 110 yards at Louisiana-Lafayette before exploding for 164 yards in the win over Memphis.

The 164 yards were the sixth-highest amount by a true freshman in UCF history. He is the only true freshman to rush for 100 yards in a Division I game at UCF.

Hit the Ground Running
UCF's 261 yards rushing vs. Memphis were the third-highest total in Division I history for the Golden Knights. The Golden Knights carried the ball 57 times for 261 yards vs. the Tigers - an average of 4.6 yards per carry.

UCF rushed for 323 yards at Middle Tennessee in 1999 and for 298 yards vs. Buffalo to rank first and second in the school's Division I history.

Getting off to a Good Start
UCF has outscored the opposition 35-0 in the first quarter over the last three games in wins over Marshall, Louisiana-Lafayette and Memphis. In UCF's first 13 games of the George O'Leary era, the Golden Knights were outscored 89-23 in the first quarter of play.

In its last three games, UCF has outscored the opposition 52-21 in the first half of play. In UCF's first 13 games of the O'Leary era, the Golden Knights were outscored 220-52 in the first half.

Orlando 500
UCF eclipsed the 500-yard mark in total offense for the first time under head coach George O'Leary with 551 yards of offense vs. Memphis. The last time UCF reached the 500-mark was in 2003 vs. Florida Atlantic. The Golden Knights gained 565 yards vs. the Owls on Sept. 13, 2003.

UCF used a balanced effort vs. Memphis, producing 261 rushing yards and 290 yards passing.

Hitting the Century Mark
True freshman tailback Kevin Smith did something at Louisiana-Lafayette no true freshman has ever done in UCF's Division I-A football history - rush for 100 yards in a game.

The Miami native carried the ball 25 times for 110 yards to become just the sixth true freshman tailback in school history to reach the century mark. The last true freshman to reach the 100-yard mark was Gerod Davis in the season-finale at Samford (Nov. 21, 1992) with 120 yards vs. the Bulldogs.

Going in the Right Direction
For the third time in Division I-A history, UCF has a .500 or better record after five games to start the season. The last time UCF started the season 3-2 was in 2000. UCF's best start ever after five games was in 1998 when Daunte Culpepper led the Golden Knights to a 4-1 mark.

Quick Strike Offense
UCF's offense came out on fire at Louisiana-Lafayette. The Golden Knights scored on their first three possessions, including a three-play, 71-yard drive on their first possession.

Steven Moffett found Brandon Marshall on a 60-yard touchdown pass to give the Golden Knights an early 7-0 advantage. The 60-yard pass play was UCF's longest play from scrimmage in 2005.

1-2 Punch
UCF wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Mike Walker have been one of C-USA's most potent wide receiver duos. The two players average a combined 179.6 yards per game, tops in Conference USA.

Walker is fifth in C-USA and 30th nationally in receiving yards per game (90.4), while Marshall is sixth in the conference and 31st nationally (89.2).

Both players established career-highs in receiving yards in the Memphis win. Walker caught a career-high 10 passes for 157 yards, including one touchdown while Marshall totaled four receptions for 133 yards and two touchdowns.

Both players were forced to spend part of the 2004 season on the defensive side of the ball for the Golden Knights due to injuries in the UCF secondary.

Spreading the Wealth
Steven Moffett completed passes to a season-high seven different wide receivers in the 24-21 win over Louisiana-Lafayette. The junior quarterback was 15-of-25 for 232 yards and three touchdown passes.

Take it to the House
Brandon Marshall is putting together his best season yet in Orlando. The big-play wide out caught five passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns at Louisiana-Lafayette. Marshall set a personal-best with two touchdown receptions.

Just one week later vs. Memphis, Marshall set another career-high for receiving yards with 133 yards and two touchdowns vs. the Tigers. He hauled in a career-long 69-yard touchdown reception from Moffett.

Winning the Battle on 3rd Down
For the fourth time in five games in 2005, both sides of the ball for UCF won the battle on third down vs. Memphis.

The Golden Knights converted 9-of-15 third down attempts while the defense limited Memphis to two third down conversions in 11 attempts.

For the season, UCF is converting 41 percent of its third down conversions while holding the opposition to 32 percent.

Upon Further Review ...
In two games in Conference USA play this season, UCF has yet to have a play in which instant replay has been utilized.

Bull in the Back Field
UCF went to its scout team defensive line to find a fullback in Neal Bittong. The redshirt sophomore walk-on from Orlando has seen extended playing time at fullback as the season has progressed.

Bittong made his first career start vs. Memphis and was the lead blocker for UCF's three tailbacks vs. the Tigers. The Golden Knights rushed for 261 yards in the Memphis win.

Scouting Southern Miss
The Golden Eagles of Southern Miss bring a record of 2-2 overall and 1-1 in Conference USA into Saturday's game vs. UCF. Southern Miss lost 34-17 at home last week to Tulsa in C-USA play.

Southern Miss has averaged 29.7 points per game to tie for 39th in the NCAA in scoring offense. The Golden Eagles are 96th in rushing offense (103 ypg), 58th in passing offense (226.2 ypg) and 90th in total offense (329.2 ypg) in the NCAA rankings.

Defensively, USM has the nation's 44th ranked scoring defense, allowing an average of 22.7 points per game. USM has yielded 391 yards of total offense per game, 72nd in the nation.

USM Head Coach Jeff Bower
Now beginning his 15th season as head coach and in his second quarter century with the Southern Miss program, Jeff Bower has been associated with the Golden Eagles' program for almost one-third of its entire 89-year-long football history.

First as a record-setting quarterback, then as a successful assistant coach, and for the past 15 seasons as head coach, Bower has played a role second to none in the school's athletic history, and it has been appropriate that Bower has been at the helm of the program at his alma mater when it was a founding member of Conference USA, and now during a time when it is enjoying unprecedented success.

Last season, Bower guided the Golden Eagles to a 7-5 overall record in a year that started as one of the best in school history. Southern Miss picked up its first-ever win over Nebraska in the season-opener and then rolled off three more wins to start the season 4-0 for the first time in Bower's career. In addition, the Golden Eagles picked up key wins throughout the season, ensuring itself of the 11th-straight non-losing season in school history.