Here are three keys for Southern Miss in the Beef 'O' Brady’s Bowl against Louisville tonight in St. Petersburg, Fla.
1. Southern Miss QB Austin Davis needs a big game. As we have talked about in the lead-up to the bowl, Davis has gotten better as the weeks have gone on, and is the biggest key to getting this offense going. The Golden Eagles like to spread teams out, but they also have a good rushing attack, averaging just over 200 yards a game on the ground. Protecting Davis is going to be very important against an aggressive defense that is not afraid to blitz.
2. Shut down Bilal Powell. Southern Miss has a good run defense, so limiting Powell from getting big chunks of yards is going to be huge. The Golden Eagles have had problems defending in the secondary, but their front four has been a strength of this team and they are going to have to use that to their advantage.
3. Win the special-teams battle. Southern Miss has a big advantage here with kicker Danny Hrapmann, a finalist for the Lou Groza Award. Hrapmann finished the 2010 regular season by setting school single-season records for kicking points (129), field goals made (26) and extra points made (51). He converted the first 15 field goals he attempted this season and established a single-game school record with five made against East Carolina.