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Louisiana travels to Austin to seek their second Big 12 win in as many years

The Ragin’ Cajuns’ have a special opportunity to spoil Steve Sarkisian’s coming out party at the University of Texas

NCAA Football: First Responder Bowl-UL Lafayette vs Texas-San Antonio Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

#23 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (0-0 Sun Belt) vs #21 Texas Longhorns (0-0 Big XII)

Date/Time: Saturday, September 4th, 3:30 PM CT

TV: Fox

Radio: RADIO: KHXT 107.9 FM / ESPN 1420 AM

Location: DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium – Austin, Texas

Betting Line: Texas -9 (O/U 58)

All-Time Series Record: Texas leads 2-0 and won the last meeting 60-3 in 2005

Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns outlook

First off, our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone along the Gulf Coast who was impacted by Hurricane Ida. This region has shown again and again that no matter what Mother Nature throws their way, the people of Louisiana will come back stronger. I encourage you all to pitch in where you can and join me in contributing to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana.

While the good folks back home begin their recovery efforts, the Ragin’ Cajuns will seek to give them a win to laissez les bon temps rouler. With the majority of the roster (and coaching staff) back from last year’s 10-1 campaign, Louisiana is ready to take the next step in building a monster in Lafayette. Despite the stellar results of 2020, Billy Napier’s squad is hungry for more, as they have their eyes set on a Sun Belt championship which they felt they were robbed off after last season’s championship game was cancelled due to positive Covid-19 tests within the Coastal Carolina program.

Before the Cajuns turn the Sun Belt into boudin, they’ll first travel to Austin to compete in one of just four matchups between top 25 programs in Week One. The stage of the Big XII is one that Louisiana is very comfortable on as they handled Iowa State on the road in 2020.

Napier does bring back most of his contributors from 2020, but his running back room will need to establish new leadership as the two-headed monster of Elijah Mitchell (49ers) and Trey Ragas (Raiders) are now fighting for roster spots in the NFL. Louisiana lists four running backs on their depth chart, with three under classmen leading the way. Redshirt sophomore Chris Smith is expected to get the start after totaling 1,639 all-purposes yards over the past two years. Napier’s insistence in getting the ball in Smith’s hands over the past two years speaks volumes to his explosive ability.

With practically everyone returning on defense, we more or less know exactly what we’ll get from the Cajuns’ defense — a deep and effective unit that features one of the top secondaries in the country. Defensive coordinator Patrick Toney’s profile is rising in the young coaching talent ranks, just like his boss.

The Longhorns have promised to be “All Gas, No Breaks” on offense, so Louisiana’s defensive line will need to be well conditioned to keep up with Texas’ expected tempo. If 330 pound nose tackle Tayland Humphrey can bring the juice for four full quarters then the Cajuns’ defensive front should hold up.

NCAA Football: Big 12 Media Days Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Longhorns outlook

New head coach, new conference, new end zone facility, same dubiously-earned Top 25 preseason ranking. For as much as this game of college football changes, just as much stays the same.

Head Coach Steve Sarkisian arrives in Austin with lofty expectations to win big and win immediately. Sarkisian won’t have the privilege of a cupcake tune-up game to implement his system; rather, the Longhorns will face one of the most successful and experienced teams on their schedule in week one.

Sarkisian’s slightly surprising decision to name freshman Hudson Card his starting quarterback over Alamobowl star Casey Thompson turned a few heads, but those who saw Card shine at the high school level aren’t shocked. Card may take his lumps as a true freshman, but his high ceiling gives Sarkisian his best chance of fulfilling UT boosters’ playoff championship expectations before they run him out of Austin with $12 million in cash stuffed into the back seat of a Model X.

Regardless of who lines up under center, having Bijan Robinson in the backfield next to them will make the quarterback’s life relatively easy. Robinson came on late last season as a freshman but he showed flashes of being a future early round draft pick. Despite all of the legendary backs to come through Austin over the years, Bijan Robinson holds the school record in yards per carry at 8.2.

The Longhorns lost several of their key pieces on defense over the offseason, but elite talents such as BJ Foster, DeMarvion Overshown, and Alfred Collins will be extremely difficult matchups for the Cajuns.

Predictions

Jared Kalmus: Louisiana is going to give the Longhorns everything they can handle, but the athleticism gap between the two programs will lead to a few quick scores for the Longhorns, ultimately proving the difference in the game as the Cajuns struggle to establish the run against UT’s imposing front seven.

Louisiana 24 Texas 34

Matt Miguez: The Cajuns ride into Austin and get the job done by playing with confidence. Quarterback Levi Lewis leads the team with a steady hand under center as Louisiana is able to fight through the blows throughout the game.

Louisiana 45 Texas 38