It will be strength on strength when Washington and Southern Miss face off in the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl on December 26.
The Golden Eagles led Conference USA in most offensive statistics, while the Huskies led the Pac-12 in most defensive statistics.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the biggest matchups on that side of the ball:
The Washington pass defense versus QB Nick Mullens:
Mullens threw for 4,145 yards this season at a clip of 8.6 yards per pass attempt. His 36 touchdowns were second best in Conference USA and he led the league in completions of 20 or more yards while completing 51 percent of his third-down passing attempts.
The only major offensive statistical drop off is with his interceptions -- he threw 12 this season, including three in the Golden Eagles’ regular season finale at Western Kentucky.
The Huskies will be the toughest defense Mullens has faced this season. Washington’s 11 opponents this season averaged 265 passing yards per game. Against the Huskies? They threw for a measly 216 yards per game.
Washington only allowed nine passing touchdowns all season. Only four teams nationally allowed fewer touchdowns (Northwestern, Wisconsin, Michigan, Texas A&M) and none of those teams had as many interceptions as the Huskies (15).
Jones finished the year with team-highs in interceptions (four), pass breakups (nine) and passes defended (13). The sophomore was another of Jimmy Lake’s defensive backs who made major strides from a freshman season that saw plenty of struggles in the secondary. He’ll be matched up with Mullens’ favorite target, Thomas.
Thomas finished the season with 12 touchdowns on 62 receptions (recording at least touchdown in each of the Eagles’ final nine games). Forty-five of his 62 receptions were first downs for Southern Miss and he averages 19.4 yards per receptions.
Washington’s pass rush versus Southern Mississippi’s offensive line:
Depsite the fact that Mullens attempted 37 passes a game, his offensive line only gave up 22 sacks this season. In the Western Kentucky, Nebraska and Marshall games, they gave up four sacks per game.
Washington’s pass rush has wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks this season. The Huskies registered five sacks in their game against Utah and four in games against Oregon, Cal and Arizona State. Linebackers Travis Feeney (11.5 TFL, seven sacks) and Cory Littleton (11 TFL, six sacks) were huge for Washington this season and considering this will be their last game as Huskies, they’ll want to go out on a high note.