Start Time: 5:00 PM EST
Location: Kibbie Dome, Moscow, Idaho
Records: ULM: 1-5. Idaho: 2-4. The overall series is tied 3-3.
Line: ULM -1.5. Over/Under: 61.
ULM Outlook: Times have become desperate for the Warhawks in the passing game with Ajalen Holley joining Rashon Ceaser on the injured list. Both will miss the Idaho game. The duo have combined for 67 catches, 763 yards, and five touchdowns on the year. The rest of the ENTIRE passing attack has accounted for 68 catches, 571 yards, and six touchdowns. Things will be very tough for Garrett Smith and company in the pass game.
Running the ball is almost a joke for the Warhawks. Despite desperately needing some sort of rushing attack, they are only getting 105.8 yards per game on the ground. When not losing yard to sacks, Smith is the best running option, along with running back Kaylon Watson. Ben Luckett and DeVontae McNeal have also shown signs of good play, but both have fewer than 30 carries on the season. I would expect Idaho to dare ULM to run the ball on them in this matchup.
Getting Gerrand Johnson back from injury should help the ULM defense, but with Johnson out of the lineup, Ben Banogu has looked very good. The only positive for the ULM defense is that they are giving up fewer than 200 yards in the air per game. That is a bit of a misnomer as teams don’t even bother to pass when they are rushing for 265.8 yards per game. Overall, the Warhawks are giving up 453 yards per game of total offense.
Players to watch on the ULM defense include: Gerrand Johnson, Ben Banogu, and Hunter Kissinger.
Idaho Outlook: I would be remiss in talking about Idaho without mentioning their team MVP, K/P Austin Rehkow. The junior kicker is one of the best placekickers and punters in the nation with honors flying in left and right.
The Idaho running game is surprisingly not terrible with Elijhaa Penny leading the way. Aaron Duckworth has become a good backup and change of pace for a running game that has shown signs of looking good. One of the biggest problems is the inability to stick to the rushing attack as they fall behind in games. Many times, the running game is abandoned when Idaho drops 14 or more points behind.
With starting quarterback Matt Linehan still trying to overcome an ankle injury, the Vandals will use him and backup Jake Luton. Both have looked solid this season, but the pass game is all Dezmon Epps all the time. Epps has nearly as many targets as the next three receivers combined and is responsible for 43% of all receiving yards. Callen Hightower and Deon Watson are solid receiving options, but do not get targeted as often as Epps. Overall, the Vandals are averaging 254.7 yards per game in the air.
The matchup of the game is the Idaho run defense versus the ULM run offense. Both are among the worst in the nation. If there is a time that the Vandals rush defense will show up, it is this week. So far they are giving up 288.7 yards per game and 6.6 yards per carry on the season. Pass defense is not much better for Idaho with offenses averaging 227 yards per game in the air. Luckily for the Vandals, ULM is without their two receiving options. In total, Idaho gives up 515.7 yards per game of total offense.
Players to watch on the Idaho defense include: Quinton Bradley, Chris Edwards, and Broc Westlake.
Prediction: With Holley and Ceaser both out for this game, I don’t know who will pick up the pace in the passing game. ULM needs a win, but Idaho comes in fresh off of a win over Troy. The Vandals seem to be the pick here. Idaho 23, ULM 17.