Start Time: 7:00 P.M. ET, Saturday, Sept. 12
Location: Cajun Field, Lafayette, Louisiana
Records: Louisiana 0-1, Northwestern State 0-1. Louisiana leads the overall series 37-35-3.
Live Stats: here.
Betting Line: No line.
Louisiana Outlook: The Louisiana Ragin Cajuns came back from a 23-point third quarter deficit before falling to Kentucky in a week one matchup.
After much speculation as to who would be the opening day starter, Brooke Haack (22-37/194/0TD) got the start over Jalen Nixon (4-4/38/0TD). Though Haack is the starter, both quarterbacks will see the field regularly with Nixon getting four pass attempts and five rushes in the game. Running back Elijah McGuire (27/86/0TD) will be the focal point of the offense, but Louisiana was at their best when Torrey Pierce (10/110/2TD) was able to take some of the strain off of McGuire. Pierce stepping up to the plate as a good #2 running back is one of the best things to come out of the week one loss. Only five receivers were involved in the passing game but Gabe Fuselier (7/69/0TD), Jamal Robinson (6/61/0TD), McGuire (4/56/0TD), and Gary Haynes (8/38/0TD) showed that all the Ragin' Cajuns need are a solid 4-5 passing options in their offense.
Giving up 435 total yards and 7.2 yards per play was somewhat to be expected versus a sneaky talented offense like Kentucky. The biggest disappointment was the inability to slow down the run game as Kentucky gouged the Ragin' Cajuns for a 6.8 yards per carry average. Senior linebacker Dominique Tovell (7 tkl, 5 tfl, 2 sacks) and senior defensive back Zachary DeGrange (5 tkl, 1 tfl, 1 sack) were the two biggest standout performers for the Ragin' Cajun defense with Tracy Walker (4 tkl, 1 INT) adding an interception. In total, Louisiana made eight tackles for loss, three sacks, and an interception.
Northwestern State Outlook: The Demons fell to in-state foe Southeastern Louisiana in a week one matchup.
The Demons offense was stuck in neutral during week one with only 259 total yards, 153 in the air and 106 on the ground. De'Mard Llorens (9/45/0TD) was the bright spot of a poor rushing attack as the only player with a 5.0 or more yards per carry average. Passing for Northwestern State is even more confusion as three quarterbacks; Joel Blumenthal (5-7/103/1TD), Daniel Hazlewood (4-8/26/0TD), and Stephen Rivers (4-6/24/0TD) all saw action behind center.
In addition to struggling on offense, the Demons defense could not stop their opponent in giving up 453 yards, including 438 on the ground. Southeastern Louisiana rushed for 7.2 yards per carry and five touchdowns on the ground, while only even attempting 10 passes on the day. Jacob Merriman (10 tkl), and Leroy Armstrong (10 tkl, 1 tfl) were the only double digit tacklers in week one for the Demons. In total, Northwestern State accumulated 4 tackles for loss, two sacks, and one interception.
Prediction: Louisiana is coming into this game full of confidence despite losing in week one. The Ragin' Cajuns showed that they could fight back versus a Power Five Conference program and nearly pulled off the upset win. The ability to pass the ball a little combined with a very strong rushing attack should be too much for Northwestern State to handle. Louisiana wins big.