The Southern Miss football team earned its third consecutive win and bowl eligibility with a 34-13 victory over UTEP Saturday in Hattiesburg.
What we learned: It was the same story USM fans have grown accustomed to this season. Southern Miss quarterback Nick Mullens threw for 277 yards and four more touchdown while the Eagles had 246 yards rushing.
For the second time in three weeks, Ito Smith and Jalen Richard both cleared the 100-yard mark. Richard ran 20 times for 127 yards and Smith had nine carries for 104 yards.
Redshirt junior receiver D.J. Thompson had a career day with 10 catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Mike Thomas came up shy of his sixth-consecutive 100-yard game with four catches for 84 yards and a touchdown.
On defense, USM held UTEP to 298 yards for the fourth consecutive game of holding an opponent under 300 yards.
What's next: USM (6-3, 4-1) is off this week with its next contest set for 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 14 at Rice (4-4, 2-2) in a game crucial to the Eagles' hopes of winning the C-USA West.
USM is tied with Louisiana Tech (6-3, 4-1) for first place in the West.
Mullens is closing in on a handful of single-season passing records for USM. He has thrown for 2,890 yards and 25 touchdowns, putting him on pace to break Austin Davis' records of 3,496 yards and 30 touchdowns from the 2011 season.
Richard is also on track to become the first 1,000-yard rusher at USM since Damion Fletcher rushed for 1,015 yards in 2009. Richard has run for 808 yards and seven touchdowns with three regular season games left.
Southern Miss ranks 14th in the nation in total offense at 507.7 yards a game, one spot ahead of Todd Monken's former employer, Oklahoma State.