Start Time: 7:00 PM Central
Location: Cajun Stadium, Lafayette, LA
Radio: ULL: Here. Texas State: 103.1 FM (Austin), 89.9 FM KTSW (San Marcos), 930 AM (San Antonio).
Records: Texas State 1-3, Louisiana 1-3
Live Stats: Here
Betting Line: Louisiana -4, O/U 71.5
Theme song of the
century game: Both teams would be advised to just let their out of conference slates go and start their seasons over. And since this contest will likely feature very little defense, what better way to celebrate all the points than AN AK-47 MADE OF AIR HORNS SHOOTING AIR HORNS TO DISNEY MUSIC AWWW YEAH
Louisiana Ragin Cajuns outlook:
Things have not been good for Louisiana in the last two weeks. While they are efficient on offense with a 47.9% success rate, they have been one of the worst teams in starting field position (26.6 yard line) in the nation. Even worse, they have had terrible turnover luck to the rate of -9.91 points per game with a -8 turnover margin on the year.
Running the football is all about Elijah McGuire (69/415/6TD). The junior is averaging 6.0 yards per carry for an offense that is #2 in rushing S&P+, #3 in success rate, and #2 in stuff rate (10.1%). McGuire is one of the few bright spots for an offense that has struggled this season. Torrey Pierce (30/184/3TD) has been a solid backup and quarterback Jalen Nixon has been good with his legs this season.
The Ragin’ Cajuns were dealt a huge blow with All-Sun Belt offensive lineman Mykhael Quave was lost for the season with a shoulder injury. He will be extremely hard to replace.
Passing is a huge question mark as Hudspeth has not yet named a starting quarterback for this week. It seems that he wants to name Jalen Nixon (32-57/295/2TD) as starter, but is waiting to see if the junior can play. Nixon is nursing a shoulder injury that caused him to miss action.
If Nixon cannot go, Brooks Haack (39-66/479/0TD) will start. Either way, the Ragin’ Cajuns have struggled passing the ball effectively this season. Gabe Fuselier (27/131/1TD) Jamal Robinson (12/178/0TD), and McGuire (13/144/1TD) are the top receiving options.
The defense for Louisiana finally seemed to fix one major problem, the run defense, but still need to fix several other issues. While 90+ in all major advanced statistics versus the run game, they slowed Louisiana Tech running back Kenneth Dixon to 59 yards on 22 carries. Pass defense for Louisiana has been all or nothing with the nation’s #34 success rate allowed (35.1%), but the #125 passing IsoPPP. Overall, the Ragin’ Cajuns are giving up 230.0 yards per game in the air.
Texas State Bobcats outlook:
Much ink and bandwidth has been spilled about Texas State's FBS-worst defense, but relief could be on the horizon for the Bobcats. Mostly because Brad Franchione, the new interim defensive coordinator, can't be much worse than what Texas State had. Consider San Marcos Record beat writer Joe Vozzelli's report on previous DC John Thompson's approach:
Bobcat head coach Dennis Franchione remembered sitting down with the recently departed defensive coordinator and hearing Thompson say the game plan against the Seminoles was to "play soft and keep everything in front of them."
As a matter of fact, Texas State stayed with that approach for the next three games, as well — whether it was Prairie View A&M, Southern Mississippi or Houston.
It didn't work.
Play soft? PLAY SOFT?! I know that Thompson probably meant play soft coverage and not soft football, but that statement is still problematic for so many reasons. Not the least of which that it flies right in the face of Thompson's supposed "aggressive" approach that we saw in the spring game.
"When he got to the season, he stopped being that way," Franchione said of the difference he saw in Thompson's mindset between preseason camp and the season itself. "He got conservative on game day. For whatever reason, he got that way."
On the other side of the ball, Texas State needs to get back on track after being held to 14 points and committing four turnovers at Houston. A dirty secret about the Bobcat offense is that in addition to his often gaudy passing numbers, Tyler Jones has carried the lion's share of the load on the ground as well. He's the team's leading rusher (282 yards, 70.5 YPG) despite all the sacks he's taken.
Robert Lowe (43 rushes, 243 yards, 5.7 YPC, 60.75 YPG) has been underutilized at times this season (especially Houston) and Chris Nutall (28 rushes, 131 yards, 4.5 YPC, 31.5 YPG) hasn't produced against FBS competition. The running backs and offensive line need to have a breakout game against a vulnerable ULL rush defense to take some pressure off of Jones and his receivers.
As for the receivers, it's probably too much to ask for a star to emerge at this point. But asking them to hold onto the dang ball shouldn't be.
This game could easily go in either direction, but I feel like this is the game that Louisiana gets back on track. McGuire has a good game on the ground and the defense slows down the excellent Texas State run game. It will be a very close game that the Ragin’ Cajuns win. Louisiana 34, Texas State 28.
I'm inclined to meet my dueling impulses of "ULL's as vulnerable as they'll ever be" and "RUN IT'S THE CURSE OF THE HUUUUUUUUD" somewhere in the middle and agree with Jeremy that this will be a toss-up. Texas State's still due for a "play above their heads" performance this year, so I'm going to gamble and say that they'll make a few stops when it matters then blast ULL's vulnerable defense into orbit.
Texas State 42, Louisiana 35