Location: Cajun Field, Lafayette, Louisiana
Start Time: 4 pm CDT
TV: ESPN 3 (WatchESPN)
The Series: Ragin’ Cajuns Lead 28-24
Betting Line: Ragin’ Cajuns (-6.5); Over/Under: 60.5
Weather Forecast: 89°F, Partly Cloudy at Kickoff
The two schools representing the Pelican State in the Sun Belt Conference will open up league play this weekend as the University of Louisiana Monroe Warhawks will travel to Lafayette to play the University of Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns. The Ragin’ Cajuns lead the annual Battle on the Bayou series 28-24, and have won the last three meetings. Last year the teams played in a torrential downpour, leading to a game where the Cajuns blanked the Warhawks 30-0 without recording a single passing yard.
Ragin’ Cajun Outlook
The Ragin’ Cajuns will look to rebuild confidence on both sides of the ball, as they took a second half beating last week against Texas A&M. The Cajuns were on upset alert for the entire first half, but the Aggies quelled that concern in a hurry once the third quarter rolled around. The Cajuns were unable to make plays on either side of the ball for the final 30 minutes of the contest.
Momentum is a hard thing to gain for a football team, and it’s an even harder thing to gain back after losing it. That is the position that the Cajuns find themselves in. The offense has shown that it can get into a rhythm and produce, but it needs to show that it can bounce back more efficiently after playing a tough contest. Running backs Trey Ragas and Elijah Mitchell will need to act as tone setters for the Cajuns this week, giving quarterback Jordan Davis to breathe and make the plays that he is capable of.
Coming out strong against an SEC offense is a great sign for the defense. They held Texas A&M to 14 points in the first half and finally looked to be on track to playing up to their billing. When all was said and done, however, they had given up 31 in the second half. The defense needs to play a complete game and keep an opponent under 40, something they have not been able to do so far this season. They look to get on track this week against a Warhawk team that has scored only 29 and 17 in their two contests.
The Warhawks have yet to lead in their two contests thus far this season. Although they hung in tough on the scoreboard against a Memphis team that just downed UCLA in a historic victory, that game was in hand for the Tigers from the start. They will look to be competitive against a more beatable Ragin’ Cajun team.
The key to the game for the Warhawks will be how they perform on offense. The Cajun defense has been spotty this year, and this could be where the Warhawks find a possible lane to victory. The Cajuns have not given up less than 45 points through three contests, despite starting off against an FCS team. While the Warhawk offense has not been much to write home about this year, they may find themselves with a great opportunity to get the motor running.
Another reason that the Warhawks will need to produce on offense to stay in this one is that the defense has been allowing huge chunks of yardage per play this year. It is not going to be easy for the Warhawks to stop a high-powered Cajun offense when they are currently giving up 6.6 yards per play. If they can find ways to stall the Cajun offense and put up points themselves, they will their first victory of the year.
Final Thoughts: Over/Under
This game seems to have all the makings of another high scoring affair, much like all of the other Ragin’ Cajun games this season. Luckily for the Warhawks, the scoreboard has been friendly to both teams in these matchups thus far this season. If the Warhawks can find some early momentum, the 60.5 over/under will fall easily.
If not, then expect the Cajuns to handle this game with ease. I like the odds of the teams going over on that total, as it’s gonna be a hot one; the whole game should see temperatures hovering around 87-90 degrees. That kind of heat will usually wear down defenses quicker and benefit the offense.