Start Time: Saturday, September 30th, 7:00 PM ET
Announcers: Joel Myers (play-by-play) and Brian Kinchen (analyst)
Location: Malone Stadium
Series: First ever meeting
Odds: ULM (-7.5) 53 total
Coastal Carolina Outlook
The Chanticleers come into their first Sun Belt Game with more questions than answers. Coming off a 52-10 loss is bad for any team but when you’re an FBS team and you lose to an FCS team by 42 points that’s a head scratchier. Coastal Carolina was dominated from start to finish last week against the Leathernecks of Western Illinois.
Quarterback Tyler Keane so far this season is 22 of 44 passing with only one touchdown and three interceptions. Osharmar Abercrombie was bottled up against last week also and will look for a bounce back game against the ULM defense. ULM is giving up 278 rushing yards per game so the chances for an Abercrombie bounce back are pretty good.
This may easily be the biggest game of the season for Coastal Carolina as this officially marks the beginning of their Sun Belt era. CCU traveling to Monroe is no easy task though, as ULM is coming off a big confidence building win against rival UL-Lafayette last Saturday in double overtime. Defense will probably make or break the Chants in this match-up as ULM can score as they average 34 points per game and Coastal gives up an average of 36.7 points per game.
The Warhawks are coming off their best performance in quite some time as they went on the road and knocked off their hated rivals from Lafayette. It appears that Matt Viator has found his quarterback of the future as true sophomore Caleb Evans looked like a stud against UL-Lafayette as he accumulated 472 total yards and accounted for six touchdowns.
But it’s not all Evans on offense as the Warhawks have an impressive group of receivers as juniors Marcus Green and Xavier Brown are each nice intermediate options to go a long with deep threats Markis McCray and RJ Turner. This passing attack is much improved in 2017. The backfield has also made strides as Alabama transfer Derrick Gore has made an immediate impact. The senior currently leads the team with 56 carries for 214 yards and three touchdowns. Explosive plays have had a lot to do with ULM’s success this season as we’re finally starting to see what offensive coordinator Matt Kubik can do when he has some capable personnel.
The defense has been strong against the pass to start the year, but after that it gets pretty ugly. The great S&P+ advanced stats ratings system has the Warhawks ranking 83rd or worse in four of the five categories that grades out the run game. The offense has made steps in the right direction but the defense still has a long way to go.
Linebackers David Griffith and Houston transfer Caleb Tucker lead the team in tackles and have combined for 7.5 tackles for loss. Corner Juwan Offray and safety Collin Turner have been very productive in the secondary as they’ve combined for eight pass break-ups.
The kicking game has been a bit of a struggle for ULM to start the season as they’ve already missed an extra point and have allowed some big returns. Markis McCray gives the kick return game a legit threat to make a big play whenever he touches the ball.
In the only Sun Belt game of week five, the Chants and the Warhawks will meet for the first time. It’s a unique spot as ULM is coming off their best win in years while Coastal was flat out embarrassed at home against FCS Western Illinois. So its very possible both squads revert to the mean on Saturday.
It’s an interesting match-up as ULM should have a hard time stopping Coastal’s rushing attack while Coastal appears to have no shot to stop ULM’s passing attack. Jamey Chadwell and Matt Viator are two of the best game coaches in the league and we’re going to see an excellent game on Saturday.
Much as nearly every other game in college football, turnovers and finishing drives with points will be absolutely huge in this game where both of these two squads are very evenly matched.
Aikman Chambers: ULM 45, Coastal Carolina 38
Adam Luckett: ULM 33, Coastal Carolina 30