HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — North Texas came into Saturday's game at Southern Miss ranked second nationally among Football Bowl Subdivision teams with 20 takeaways.
The Mean Green likely will stay among the leaders after collecting five turnovers, as North Texas simply overpowered the Golden Eagles in the first half on its way to a 55-14 rout at Roberts Stadium.
"We were trying to take away any hope that they could win the football game early," North Texas coach Dan McCarney said.
Derek Thompson threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another in the first half as the Mean Green ran out to a 41-7 lead.
"It's nice when we can march up and down the field and do what we want to do and be able to go with tempo," Thompson said.
Running backs Antoinne Jimmerson, Brandin Byrd and Reggie Pegram each scored twice for North Texas (5-3, 3-1 C-USA), which won its third, consecutive conference game and posted back-to-back road victories for the first time since 2004.
McCarney said an expanded deck of playmakers will help the Mean Green in the long haul.
"That's what we are looking for — depth, competition, more playmakers," McCarney said. "Don't just go out there and compete. Anyone can compete. Go make plays.
Before a homecoming crowd of 23,203, the Golden Eagles (0-7, 0-3) added to the Football Bowl Subdivision's longest active losing streak, dropping their 19th consecutive game.
The loss assured Southern Miss back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1933-34.
"It hurts now," said first-year Southern Miss coach Todd Monken. "It hurts for our seniors and for our older kids that continue to fight and we have five weeks left together. No one is coming to rescue us."
In his first career start, Southern Miss freshman quarterback Nick Mullens completed 12 of 31 passes for 210 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. He also lost two fumbles after being sacked.
The five turnovers gave the Golden Eagles 26 giveaways in seven games this season.
North Texas went up 13-0 in the first quarter on a 46-pass from Thompson to Brelan Chancellor and a 2-yard run by Pegram.