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The Big Tuesday Night Louisiana at Texas State Preview

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UL beat writer Cody Junot and Texas State beat writer Will Butler preview Tuesday night's Sun Belt clash on ESPN2.

Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

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WHO: Louisiana 2-3 (1-0) at Texas State 3-2 (1-0)
WHEN: Tuesday, October 14, 7:00 ESPN2
WHERE: Jim Wacker Field at Bobcat Stadium (30,000)
LINE: -3, Texas State (opened -4.4)

The Louisiana Ragin Cajuns will make their first trip to San Marcos for a primetime matchup with the Texas State Bobcats. Both Louisiana and Texas State enter Tuesday's game looking to move up in the Sun Belt standings. Last time out Louisiana escaped Georgia State while Texas State outlasted Idaho. Let's take a look what Louisiana needs to do to win and who needs to make those plays.

LOUISIANA PLAYERS TO WATCH

  • Terrance Broadway, SR Quarterback: If Louisiana is going win, Terrance Broadway must play his best game of 2014. The Baton Rouge native has had a shaky start to his senior campaign but showed marked improvement last week against Georgia State. Last week Broadway threw two touchdown passes but more importantly he did not have any turnovers. Having safety blanket Jamal Robinson back on the field seemed to give Broadway more confidence and swagger.
  • Elijah McGuire, SO Running Back: Without question Louisiana's best offensive weapon when he's on the field. McGuire leads the Cajuns in rushing with 331 yards on just 43 carries. He also leads the team in catches with 18. But so far this season McGuire has been slowed by nagging injuries. He was limited to just 11 total touches last week due to turf toe injury.
  • Jamal Robinson, SR Wide Receiver: When Robinson exited the Louisiana Tech game early due to a knee injury nobody expected Louisiana's offense to be as explosive. But boy did we ever underestimate just how much of a role Robinson played in making the Cajun offense go. His return last week immediately paid dividends, Robinson caught eight balls for 119 yards and two touchdowns. His leadership and experience help make up for, what thus far has been an underperforming wide receiver group.
  • Louisiana Defense: The Cajun defense has struggled so far in 2014, as Louisiana is dead last in total defense having given up 504.6 yards per game. The Cajuns have also been unable to take the ball away, Louisiana has forced just a single turnover though five games. Last week however the Cajuns showed something they had not shown all season, they found a way to get a stop when they had to have one. The defense stopped Georgia State on fourth down to secure the Cajun win.

TEXAS STATE PLAYERS TO WATCH

  • Terrence Franks, SR RB: He singlehandedly demolished Idaho's defense last week and has shown that he's now a big play force to be reckoned with. Dennis Franchione said that Franks ran a 4.3 40 yard dash in the spring, and he appears to be gaining Coach Fran's trust with every week. Look for Franks to get a number of carries in this game, especially if Robert Lowe still isn't 100%.
  • Craig Mager, SR CB: You never quite know what you're going to get out of Mager. One minute he's locking down the opposing receiver with ease or blasting opposing quarterbacks off the edge on corner blitzes, the next minute he has an inexplicable blown coverage or fumbles a punt on minimal contact. The 5'11" Mager's likely going to be lined up against 6'4" Jamal Robinson, who abused the Bobcats last year to the tune of 4 catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns, so it's safe to say that Mager's got his work cut out for him.
  • Tyler Jones, SO QB: Even when he has an off night such as against Idaho, this is still very much Jones's team. Louisiana's defense did manage to hold Georgia State to 3.7 yards per carry on the ground, but their disappointing secondary is ripe for the picking. If Jones can just do what he does best, which is fake out every damn camera crew in the country with his last minute zone read, pitch, and play fake decisions, some passing lanes should open up for him.

HOW TO BEAT THE BOBCATS

  • CONTROL THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE: Texas State is second in Sun Belt in rushing offense averaging 259.8 yards per game. If the Cajuns don't want to get run out of town, Justin Hamilton, Christian Ringo and the rest of the defensive front must make sure they stop the run and force Texas State the throw the football. If the Cajuns are not able to stop the run, Texas State will be able to use the play action pass to take long shots down field. On the other side of the ball, if Louisiana is able to run the ball they can shorten the game and use the play action pass themselves.
  • SHINE BRIGHT: The bright lights on national television will be shining Tuesday. The Cajuns must stay calm and not press simply because they are the only game on and the entire country will be watching. I believe Louisiana's senior laden team will be able to handle the situation better than Texas State simply because they've been on this stage before.

HOW TO BEAT THE RAGIN' CAJUNS

  • WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE: Lousiana's relative fall from grace this season has partly been caused by their turnover margin, which is an astoundingly bad -9. Terrance Broadway has been responsible for 7 interceptions this season, so some blitz packages featuring David Mayo and possibly Mager once again may be in order. On the other side of the ball, Tyler Jones just needs to take care of business and not stare down his receivers and/or throw into double coverage.
  • BEND, DON'T BREAK AGAINST THE RUN: Illinois, Tulsa, and Idaho were having trouble establishing the run until they played Texas State. Given that UL has Elijah McGuire who has been averaging 7.7 yards per carry, that's a frightening pattern. Linebackers David Mayo and Jerrid Jeter-Gilmon can only do so much; the defensive line, and especially the tackles, have to find a way to stuff a few runs in the red zone at the very least.

PREDICTION:

Cody: I think after finding a way to win a week ago, Louisiana has some of their confidence back. The Cajuns need to control the clock on offense by running the ball and then use the play action pass to take shots downfield. Barring any injuries Elijah McGuire must touch the ball at least 20 times. I look for the Cajuns to finally force a turn over, maybe even two. I like Louisiana to win another close game 38-34.

Will: Asking the Bobcat defense to contain UL on the ground may be too much, but if they can play focused, make a few red zone stops, and force Broadway into some bad reads, then Texas State has a fighting chance. On offense, if Tyler Jones can shake off last week's performance and play to his potential, and if the offensive line can bulldoze paths for Rob Lowe and Terrence Franks to sustain drives, then look for the Bobcats to put up quite a few points. Putting all of those "ifs" together will be tough, but doable for the 'Cats. Call it a homer pick, but I think this is the week where Texas State fires on all cylinders. Texas State 45, Louisiana 38