HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — Mired in an 18-game losing streak, Southern Mississippi is making a change at quarterback.
The Golden Eagles (0-6, 0-2) will start freshman Nick Mullens against North Texas (4-3, 2-1 Conference USA) on Saturday when the two teams meet at Roberts Stadium. Mullens replaces senior Allan Bridgford, who started the first six games.
Mullens received extensive playing time after Southern Miss fell behind early last week in a 55-14 loss to East Carolina. He completed 9 of 17 passes for 97 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
The 6-foot-1, 188-pounder from Hoover, Ala., is also a little more mobile in the pocket than Bridgford.
"In this moment, we've got to see what Nick can do," Southern Miss coach Todd Monken said. "We're obviously struggling offensively. That's part of it."
Southern Miss might get a spark from Mullens, but it also must correct a myriad of other problems. The Golden Eagles are averaging only 83 yards rushing per game this season and haven't had a rushing touchdown.
The Golden Eagles' defense is giving up more than 40 points per game.
North Texas has won two straight games and is pushing to contend for a C-USA title in its first season in the league. The Mean Green are led by quarterback Derek Thompson, who has thrown 1,680 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions this season.
Five things to watch as Southern Mississippi hosts North Texas:
WILL IT EVER END: Southern Miss has now lost 18 games in a row, which is the longest current losing streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Golden Eagles weren't competitive last week, falling 55-14 in a road game to East Carolina.
CHANGE AT QB: The Golden Eagles are making a change at quarterback, using freshman Nick Mullens instead of senior Allan Bridgford. Mullens played well against East Carolina, completing 9 of 17 passes for 97 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
GROUND GAME: Southern Miss is looking for a spark at quarterback, but it needs help in just about every facet of the game. The Golden Eagles could use more production from the running game, which has no touchdowns through six games and is averaging just 83 yards.
ROLLING NORTH TEXAS: North Texas is playing well during its first season in Conference USA. The Mean Green have won two straight games — over Louisiana Tech and Middle Tennessee — and are pushing to contend for the C-USA title.
CONSISTENT OFFENSE: North Texas isn't putting up gaudy offensive numbers, but the Mean Green have been very consistent. They've scored at least 21 points in all seven games this season. It's just the second time that's happened in the program's 98-year history.
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