Last time Georgia Southern met Louisiana-Monroe on the football field, it was the season finale on a cold night at Paulson Stadium. The heavily favored Eagles barely hung on in a hard-fought game featuring late heroics from third-string quarterback Ezayi Youyoute.
Was that really 11 months ago? Yes, it was. Will Georgia Southern win again? You'll just have to wait to find out.
Start Time: 7 p.m. EST/6 p.m. Central, Saturday, Oct. 3
Location: JPS Field at James L. Malone Stadium, Monroe, Louisiana
Betting Line: Georgia Southern -6, Over/Under of 49
ULM Outlook: While it's already week 5 ULM remains very much an unknown. They've been manhandled by Georgia and Alabama, while taking their anger out on a hapless Nicholls State in between. Steve Spurrier used to call these the preseason games and, more recently, Frank Beamer referred to them as exhibitions (though the joke isn't as funny when you lose them).
Head Coach Todd Berry is known for his strong defenses. The Warhawks are second in the conference in total defense, third in scoring defense and number one in pass defense. Again, that's against Georgia and Alabama. They'll see an entirely different test in the Fritzkrieg.
Then there's the offense. Last in the Sun Belt in scoring offense, last in rushing, next to last in total offense.
Unfortunately, Senior Wide Receiver Rashon Caeser was injured in the Alabama game and still won't get to "beat Georgia Southern for y'all." He led the Warhawk offense in receiving yards last season and was arguably the team's leading threat before getting hurt. His backup, Tre' Perrier, also was injured against the Tide, which explains the 92 yards of total offense a lot better than "dang ol' Saban y'all."
ULM is also one of the most-penalized teams in the FBS, averaging 11 penalties for 92 yards per game, a stat that probably has nothing to do with quality of competition. We'll find out a lot more about this team Saturday night.
Georgia Southern Outlook: Southern's 3-1 record looks healthier than ULM's 1-2, and it is. At the same time, only the Western Michigan game came against a true peer. West Virginia was a mismatch (although any Eagles fan would kill to do that one over again), as were matchups against unequipped Idaho and Citadel teams. In other words, with ULM's schedule Willie Fritz and crew might also be 1-2.
The story so far has been of a team picking up right where it left off last year (again with the exception of the nightmare in Morgantown), especially for Matt Breida. The star tailback already boasts 589 rushing yards this season, a pace that should put him near 1,800 before the regular season closes. Statistics aside, it's watching him in action that's the real treat. The vision he shows on some of the longer runs is just incredible.
Southern's passing game took a major hit when B.J. Johnson was lost for the season during the Idaho game. Hopefully that will open up room for players like Ryan Longoria and Derek Keaton to step up. Southern's offense hasn't scored a passing touchdown this year, which is both a bad sign and a testament to the incredible power of the nation's leading run game.
For the defense, Idaho's throwing attack was as far from The Citadel's option as Idaho is from The Citadel. This week's opponent isn't known for excellence in either of the two, though they could attempt to establish the run owing to Caeser's injury.
Home field advantage will likely not be a huge factor and, compared to the Pacific Northwest, Monroe might as well be Statesboro. Then again, never underestimate the power of the Duck Dynasty crew.
Prediction: ULM is certainly better than Idaho, a fact reflected in the meager six points the Warhawks are getting. But like last week, that is much too low of a spread for this game. Georgia Southern pulls away late, winning and covering yet again before cruising back into Statesboro for homecoming week. And take the over if you're into that sort of thing.