Start Time: Saturday, October 2nd, 7 PM CDT
Location: Hancock Whitney Stadium, Mobile, AL
Weather: 75º, 15% chance of rain, winds 5-10 mph NW
Records: Louisiana 3-1 (1-0 SBC), South Alabama 3-0 (0-0 SBC)
All-Time: Louisiana leads 7-2 (won last 5 meetings)
Betting Line: Louisiana -12.5, O/U 53
Radio: ESPN 1420 AM, KHXT Hot 107.9 FM
It’s finally October, and that means two things in the South: cooler weather and intense college football. Saturday night will not be short on intensity, as Louisiana and South Alabama will match up for an early battle in the Sun Belt West. The Cajuns come into this contest after three consecutive wins over Nicholls St, Ohio, and Georgia Southern. Now 1-0 in-conference, Billy Napier looks to keep the train rolling into Mobile. Levi Lewis just eclipsed 1000 yards passing early on in the year, the running game looks solid with Freshman Montrell Johnson leading the backfield, and the wide receiver position looks stout with Jefferson, Lacy, Stephens, Fleming, and more. Also, this Louisiana defense under Patrick Toney has been stellar early on. Pressuring the quarterback, great coverage on receivers, and making plays all over the field. Look for Percy Butler, Ferrod Gardner, and Zi’Yon Hill to be big contributors to this matchup.
On the other hand, South Alabama comes in 3-0 so far with wins over Southern Miss, Bowling Green, and Alcorn St. First-year head coach Kane Wommack, former DC at Indiana, has the Jags on the right track and brings a whole list of challenges for Louisiana, especially in the West. Jake Bentley is a transfer QB that saw playing time at South Carolina and Utah, plus they have Jalen Tolbert in that receiver group who will be “the most talented player on the field” according to Dave Schultz, host of “The Game Plan” on 105.5 WNSP in Mobile.
Offensively, both teams are fairly evenly matched. The Cajuns come into Mobile averaging 30.5 PPG while giving up 24 points to opposing offenses. South is currently averaging 27 points per game while only allowing 15.7. Another key statistic in this matchup will be the turnover margin. Louisiana is even at 3 takeaways and 3 giveaways, while South Alabama is +1 with 7 takeaways and 6 giveaways. Look for the turnover battle to be a key aspect tomorrow night.
Injury-wise, Louisiana’s list has grown quite lengthy over the last week. Kicker Kenneth Alemendares and OL Jax Harrington and Carlos Rubio are out for the remainder of the year. Alemendares is dealing with a fractured foot while Harrington and Rubio both have lower-body injuries.
Saturday night in Mobile “will be the biggest home game for South since 2014,” said South Alabama PxP Assistant Director of Broadcasting JT Crabtree.
“It should be a great matchup,” said Crabtree. “With Louisana having the success they’ve had the years, and now South Alabama starting hot at 3-0, it’ll be a real test to see what the Jags have under Kane Wommack.”
Crabtree notes that the atmosphere at Hancock Whitney Stadium should provide a stellar environment for football come kickoff.
“With it being a whiteout for the big matchup, it should be an incredible atmosphere on campus.”
He’s not wrong. The Jags have a brand new stadium, raucous crowds on campus, a whiteout game, and a big-time opponent. South will step up to the challenge with Wommack, Jake Bentley, and Jalen Tolbert. However, Louisiana’s track record of success and leadership will survive in the end.
Final Score: Lousiana 38, South Alabama 31