Location: Malone Stadium, Monroe, LA
Kickoff: Saturday, September 19th 6:30 p.m. CST
Radio: San Marcos: AM 1300, 930 AM, 89.9 FM. Monroe: LA 105 FM
Series Record: ULM leads the series, 12-4
Last Meeting: Warhawks won last season’s meeting 24-14.
Betting Line: TXST -5 1/2, O/U: 63
It’s been an interesting season so far. Many college teams are rescheduling with schools at the last minute to fulfill vacated spots.
With multiple conferences delaying or cancelling football, open spots on national television are being filled with the remaining teams. This is a blessing in disguise as many G5 schools are getting a peek of the P5 life playing to millions of hungry fans.
The Sun Belt has taken advantage of the limelight and become the new stepdad of the Big 12 in the process. Three “funbelt” teams took down some of the conference affiliates last weekend.
Two of those teams looking to make some headroom in a wide open, but now powerhouse, Sun Belt are the Texas State Bobcats and ULM Warhawks.
Quarterback Tyler Vitt was thrust into action last weekend against UTSA because of a last minute COVID-19 scratch of incumbent starter Brady McBride. Despite a shaky start, Vitt performed well going 26/39 for 346 yards and four touchdowns. Granted, he threw two interceptions as well, but tepid play calling in the first half exposed his weaknesses and the lack of a running game got the Bobcats off to a slow start.
With McBride (presumably) coming back, there should be a return to whatever game plan that was in place originally. Running backs Brock Sturges and Calvin Hill need to be fed the ball more. The running game was effective in the first game against SMU and also helped fuel the second half comeback last weekend.
Four different Bobcat receivers lead each major category (catches, yards, average per catch and touchdowns) meaning that for once in a long while, Texas State has a loaded corp of wideouts. Leading the charge though is Jeremiah Haydel.
For the second week in a row, Haydel electrified the game first with his catch of the year against SMU and then the 91-yard punt return touchdown last week. Haydel has put Texas State and himself in the eyes of such people as former NFL star Dez Bryant and Heisman winner Desmond Howard. What magic will Haydel bring this weekend?
Defensively, the ‘Cats gave up over 500 yards of total offense for the second week in a row. They have had their moments, but after forcing three turnovers against the Mustangs they were negative two in the turnover column against the Roadrunners.
Similar numbers occurred in the sack department. The Bobcat defense only had one sack whereas UTSA nabbed five.
Getting off on the wrong foot was an understatement for the Warhawks last Saturday. In their season debut versus Army, the Black Knights spanked Monroe 37-7 in grand fashion.
Two quarterbacks saw action and completed a combined 16 passes and the ULM running game only squeaked out 37 yards on the ground.
The triple-option juggernaut from West Point slathered the Warhawks for 436 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
For ULM to turn it around against Texas State, they’ll need to get their own running game going. Josh Johnson is capable as his 38-yard performance against Army was not a representation of his abilities. Last year, the senior ran for nearly 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns including a 114-yard, two touchdown performance against the Bobcats last year.
It’s hard to adjust to the archaic and unorthodox offense of Army as any team can struggle against an option offense in an air-raid world. The Warhawks will get to plan a more balanced attack against a Texas State team that distributes on the ground and air at a 60/40 rate.
Even though it’s game two for Louisiana-Monroe, this is a make-or-break game, as their Sun Belt schedule is looking tougher and tougher as the weeks go on.
The Warhawks certainly have the ability to generate some positive momentum and will definitely have some success against a spotty Bobcat defense. But with Brady McBride coming back and the ULM having to account for his spontaneous game play the running attack for Texas State should feast as Army did against them. I’m predicting the Texas State win, 38-25.