HATTIESBURG — All of the preparation for the Southern Miss football team over the last several months looks to pay off Saturday night when the Golden Eagles open their 2019 football season, entertaining Alcorn State with a 6 p.m. kick at M.M. Roberts Stadium.

The Golden Eagles, under fourth-year coach Jay Hopson, vies to put together their fourth winning season under the coach and the fifth in a row for the program. Southern Miss posted a 6-5 record last season winning in three of the final four contests.

Southern Miss opens at home for the third-straight season and fourth time over the last five campaigns when they meet the Braves.

This will be the third time Southern Miss has hosted the Braves in Hattiesburg as the Golden Eagles own a 2-0 record in the series. The two teams first met back during the 2009 campaign with Southern Miss collecting a 52-0 decision, before a much tighter contest took place in a 26-20 Golden Eagle victory early in 2014.

The meeting will be the eighth for the Golden Eagles against a squad from the Southwestern Athletic Conference with Southern Miss holding a 7-0 record in those contests.

In 2018, Southern Miss averaged 367.6 yards per game on offense behind quarterback Jack Abraham, who threw for 2,347 yards in nine games with 15 touchdown passes. He paced an offense that scored 26.2 points per contest. Nine starters return on the offensive side of the ball as they try to better their production a year ago.

On defense, the Golden Eagles finished No. 3 in the country in total yards allowed, giving up just 278.4 per contest. Four Southern Miss defenders were named preseason All-Conference USA including defensive linemen, senior Demarrio Smith and junior Jacques Turner, along with junior linebacker Racheem Boothe and junior defensive back Ky’el Hemby as the Eagles expect to improve on its defense from a season ago.

Alcorn State heads to Hattiesburg after finishing with a 9-4 record to go along with a SWAC championship and a berth in the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl. The Braves return eight of 12 all-league selections from a season ago to go along with four HBCU All-Americans.

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