Southern Miss beat Rice to win the LendingTree Bowl. What happened, who was the player of the game, and what does it all mean?
Southern Miss 38, Rice 24 LendingTree Bowl What Happened, Player of the Game, What It All Means
LendingTree Bowl What Happened
– Frank Gore Jr. ran for 329 yards with two touchdown runs and a scoring pass – punctuated by a 55-yard touchdown run to seal the win – as Southern Miss scored 21 unanswered points over the last 19 minutes.
– Southern Miss got up 14-0 helped by a 64-yard touchdown run from Gore Jr., but Rice roared back with three touchdown passes from AJ Padgett with two to Isaiah Esdale for a 24-17 lead carried deep into the fourth.
– It wasn’t the sharpest game from either side, but Rice hung around even with the massive day from Gore Jr. The final score is going to make the game look worse than it was. The Owls were able to fight back early, but they couldn’t hold up late. The defensive front wore down just enough to allow Gore Jr. to take over.
LendingTree Bowl Player of the Game
Frank Gore Jr., RB BYU
He ran 21 times for 329 yards and two scores, and he completed two of his three passes for 19 yards and a touchdown.
LendingTree Bowl Fun Stats
– The two teams combined for five turnovers, three from Southern Miss and two from Rice.
– The offenses combined for 975 yards. Gore Jr. accounted for 348 of the Southern Miss 550.
– Southern Miss came up with five sacks. LB Daylen Gill led the game with 11 tackles with three sacks.
LendingTree Bowl What It All Means
After two three-win seasons, and without a bowl win since taking the 2016 New Orleans, Southern Miss coming up with a winning season is a big deal in Will Hall’s second season. As part of the new and improved Sun Belt, it’s a nice momentum boost for the program going into the offseason as a potential player in the 2023 conference race.
This might not have been a perfect performance, but considering the rough three-game losing streak late in the season – and the need to beat ULM just to get here – the season changed in a big way late.
Rice was playing with house money. Of course it would’ve liked to pull off the bowl win, and it had its chances, but as the only 5-7 team in the bowl season, this was a solid game with both sides battling throughout. The run defense got gouged, but there wasn’t any letdown until Gore Jr. finally put it away late.
For all of the problems this year, it was the first bowl game in the five-year run under Mike Bloomgren, and the program’s first bowl appearance since winning the 2014 Hawaii.