Start Time: 6 p.m. EST, Sept. 28
Location: Allen E. Paulson Stadium; Statesboro, GA
Records: Georgia Southern (1-2), Louisiana (3-1)
Weather: 91 degrees at kickoff, 5 mph winds
Betting Line: Louisiana -3.5, O/U 55
After a week off following the road loss to Minnesota, the Georgia Southern Eagles will look to pick up its first conference win of the season this Saturday against a formidable foe in the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana.
Outside of a 10-point loss to Mississippi State to begin the season, the Cajuns have been on a tear during this three-game winning streak, scoring at least 35 points in wins over Liberty, Texas Southern and Ohio.
Georgia Southern Outlook
The big question coming into this one for Southern is “Would Shai Werts be available to play?”
Head coach Chad Lunsford has been extremely tight-lipped about the junior quarterback’s availability, doing his best Bill Belichick impersonation in speaking to the media.
Freshman Justin Tomlin has stepped up well for the Eagles in Werts’ absence, rushing for 193 yards and two touchdowns and adding 192 yards passing through the air in a very balanced attack.
With this being the final game of Wesley Kennedy III’s four-game suspension another big concern is: Which GS running back will step up and make the big plays when needed, especially on third downs?
Logan Wright and Matt LaRoche have seen the most carries for Southern this season, with each having logged over 185 yards on the ground, and the pair scoring a touchdown each in the team’s 1-2 start.
Defensively, the Eagles will need to snuff out the three-headed rushing attack of Raymond Calais, Trey Ragas and Elijah Mitchell, and force quarterback Levi Lewis to win the game for the Cajuns with his arm.
The Georgia Southern defense has had some real highs and lows so far this year, and for an example look no further than the game against Minnesota. After a strip-sack allowed Southern to take a late lead, the Golden Gophers easily marched down the field on the final drive of the game and scored to come away with the win.
This amount of inconsistency the defense has shown unfortunately will not cut it against a Cajuns offense that is averaging 46.3 points per game so far through 4 games.
Since the season-opening loss to an SEC opponent, Louisiana has been a well-oiled machine offensively, putting up some eye-popping numbers on the ground.
Each of Ragas, Mitchell and Calais have racked up over 230 yards rushing so far this season, with Ragas being the most successful of the bunch with an average of 10.4 yards per carry.
Quarterback Levi Lewis has been very efficient in the Cajuns’ 3-1 start, tossing 7 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions while being able to lean on the running game for support.
Receiver JaMarcus Bradley has been the main beneficiary of Lewis’ passing numbers, having hauled in 20 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns. The Georgia Southern secondary might have its hands full on Saturday containing the Lewis-to-Bradley connection.
Defensively, the Cajuns have done a great job over its last three wins, allowing an average of just 15 points per game in the victories.
The rush defense has been particularly stout this season for Louisiana, holding teams to an average of 144.5 yards per game on the ground. When teams have been successful yardage-wise against the Cajuns, most of that has come through the air.
I believe this game is going to be a high-scoring one for sure, and that over of 55 looks ripe from a betting perspective, which we discuss in depth on this week’s Fun In The Sun Podcast (now also on iTunes!). The Eagles are a different team at the friendly confines of Paulson than they are on the road, and I think although this one will be close, I think Georgia Southern has the edge.
Final Score: Georgia Southern 38, Louisiana 34