Start Time: 11:00 a.m. CST, Sept. 19
Location: Center Parc Credit Union Stadium, Atlanta, GA
Weather: 66 degrees at kickoff, 12 mph winds
Betting Line: Louisiana -16
After arguably the biggest win in school history, Billy Napier looks to get his program back on track as they travel to Atlanta to take on the Panthers of Georgia State. The Cajuns have had success in the past against the Panthers, winning all of the four previous matchups. Louisiana is in the Top 25 for the first time in the modern era (1943 was the last time ranked) and look to keep climbing the polls with a road win before coming home next weekend.
The Cajuns dominated defensively last weekend in Ames, holding Iowa State scoreless in the second half and outscoring them 24-0 since the final minutes of the first half. Offensively, the Cajuns were hoping to play better, but playing the best defensive line in the Big 12 certainly didn’t do Louisiana any favors. The difference in this game was two special teams touchdowns and a +2 turnover margin for the Cajuns.
Louisiana received some unfortunate news last night from Napier, stating that nine players would not be making the trip to Atlanta due to COVID-19. The Cajuns will also be without impact cornerback AJ Washington, defensive lineman Sonny Hazard, and backup quarterback Jai’ave Magalei (undisclosed reasons). However, the Cajuns will get Zi’yon Hill and Kendall Wilkerson back on the defensive line as well as Donte Fleming returning to the receiver corps. Overall, the Cajuns look healthy and primed for a great Sun Belt Conference opener.
This game vs Louisiana is the Panthers’ season opener, so there’s still a lot of question marks within the program. Clearly, replacing a player like Dan Ellington and Tra Barnett will not be easy for Shawn Elliot, but he believes in his freshman QB Quad Brown. During the press conference this week, Elliot praised Louisiana and had a lot to say about this weekend’s game: “For myself and our staff and players, it’s going to be such a great feeling to walk on that field and actually have a game of football to play and go out there and compete. That’s ultimately what we want to do. Our players are thrilled to be playing a great opponent. After beating Iowa State, Louisiana comes in here ranked No. 19 in one poll and No. 21 in the other and it’s on ESPN2 - that’s a big-time feeling. We’re ready to go play.”
The Panthers also return 1st Team SBC receiver Cornelius McCoy and 3rd Team SBC receiver Sam Pinckney for the offense. Defense has to be the biggest question mark for the program after allowing 460 yards and 36 points per game last season. However, I feel the Panthers will be fired up and ready to kick their season off.
Louisiana comes out scoring early and often. Georgia State will have a hard time keeping up and eventually waves the white flag just like Iowa State.
Final Score: Louisiana 45, Georgia State 14
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