The Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (4-6, 3-3) needs to pick up back to back wins to close the season to become bowl eligible; they open that stretch with a matchup against the Appalachian State Mountaineers (8-2, 5-1) in Sun Belt action Saturday. Appalachian State won the only matchup between the two programs with a 35-16 road win as an 8 point underdog on November 22, 2014.
Louisiana Lafayette dropped their second straight with a 37-34 home defeat to New Mexico State last Saturday. Appalachian State has won seven of eight after clubbing Idaho 47-20 on the road two weeks ago; they are coming off a bye last week. The kickoff from Kidd-Brewer Stadium in Boone, North Carolina is scheduled for 2:00 pm ET and can be seen on ESPN3. Appalachian State is currently a 23.5 point favorite with the over/under set at 60 points in this contest.
Louisiana Lafayette lost their third game by eight points or less with their defeat to New Mexico State last week. The Ragin’ Cajuns lost the total yardage battle 498-475, dropped the first down battle 27-23 and committed the game’s only turnover in the game. Louisiana Lafayette won the time of possession battle 31:29 to 28:31 but couldn’t hang on after taking the lead in the fourth quarter. After going ahead 34-27 with less than seven minutes to play, the Ragin’ Cajuns gave up 10 points in the final 3:59 to end up losing.
The Ragin’ Cajuns enter this contest 82nd in the nation in passing offense (209.1 yards per game) and 40th in the nation in rushing as they put up 191.8 yards per game on the ground. Louisiana Lafayette averages 29.6 points per game and they are tied for 89th in the nation in scoring defense as they allow 31.3 points per contest. Jalen Nixon has completed 75 of 141 passes for 812 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions while ranking second on the team with 403 yards and five scores. Brooks Haack (75 of 141, 1279 yards, 5 TD, 6 INT, 116 rushing yards, 2 TD) is the backup quarterback. Elijah McGuire is the team’s leading rusher with 179 carries for 929 yards and 12 scores while Torrey Pierce has contributed 78 carries for 368 yards and four touchdowns. Gabe Fuselier is the team’s third leading receiver with 31 catches for 297 yards and a score; McGuire has 29 catches for 278 yards and two scores out of the backfield. Al Riles has collected 43 receptions for 446 yards plus four scores and Jamal Robinson (team high 45 grabs, team high 741 yards, 5 TD) are good secondary options. Stevie Artigue is 26 of 28 on extra points and 8 of 14 on field goal attempts with a long of 49 yards. Aaron Bird has hit all three extra point attempts and both field goal attempts on the year with a long of 31 yards.
Appalachian State didn’t do much through the air in their win over Idaho but they pounded the Vandals to the tune of 401 rushing yards in the contest. The Mountaineers outgained the Vandals 511-299, racked up 29 first downs while allowing 17 and controlled the clock as they held the ball for 36:44 to Idaho’s 23:16 in the victory. Neither team committed a turnover but Appalachian State did manage to record a safety in the game when they weren’t pounding Idaho with the run in the contest.
The Mountaineers are 83rd in the nation in passing offense (208.7 yards) and 6th in rushing offense as they roll up 269.5 yards per game on the ground. Appalachian State is scoring 38.4 points per game, which is tied for 15th in the nation in scoring offense, and they are extremely good when it comes to keeping opponents off the scoreboard; they are currently 16th in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 18.5 points per contest. Taylor Lamb has completed 128 of 214 passes for 1,928 yards with 26 touchdowns and seven interceptions while rushing for 331 yards and four scores. JP Caruso is the backup if Lamb goes down; he’s hit six of 10 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown while running for 115 yards. Marcus Cox is the main man in the ground game for the Mountaineers; he has 183 carries for 991 yards and six scores. Terrence Upshaw (78 carries, 436 yards, 3 TD), Jalin Moore (59 carries, 447 yards, 2 TD) and Josh Boyd (41 carries, 155 yards) have done decent work in their limited efforts. Simms McElfresh leads the team with 24 receptions for 308 yards and five scores; Shaedon Meadors (20 catches, team high 421 yards, 3 TD), Bobo Beathard (13 catches, 255 yards, 3 TD) and Malachi Jones (18 grabs, 366 yards, 2 TD) are other Appalachian State players with double digit receptions while Cox has grabbed 15 balls out of the backfield. Zach Matics has booted all 49 extra points and 11 of 12 field goal attempts with a long of 51 yards.
Appalachian State is 4-1 ATS in their last five after throwing for less than 170 yards and 6-2-1 ATS in their last nine conference games. Louisiana Lafayette is 1-4 ATS in their last five after a bye, 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven on the road against teams with a winning home record, 0-4-1 ATS in their last five conference games, 0-3-1 ATS in their last four on the road and 0-4-1 ATS in their last five overall.
The Ragin’ Cajuns have had all kinds of problems this season and it’s unlikely that they will have much luck against the Mountaineers, especially on the road. Appalachian State is a tough team with plenty of talent to go around; when one guy goes down, someone else fills in seamlessly to do the job. The Mountaineers has an edge in skill players and that, plus their success, carries them to the victory in this contest over a struggling Louisiana Lafayette team.