The Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (3-4, 2-1) will take a quick trip as they take on the Georgia State Panthers (2-5, 1-2) in a Sun Belt Conference matchup Saturday afternoon. Louisiana Lafayette has taken both of the previous matchups between the schools, including a 34-31 win at home on October 4, 2014. Georgia State covered the line in both contests, including as a 16 point underdog in that 2014 meeting.
Louisiana Lafayette had lost three of four before edging Louisiana Monroe 30-24 last week. Georgia State lost for the fourth time in their last five as they were dumped 48-34 by Arkansas State on the road. This one is slated to kickoff at 2:00 pm ET from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia; the game can be seen on ESPN3. Louisiana Lafayette is currently favored by 3.5 points with the over/under set at 63 points in this contest.
Louisiana Lafayette rallied from a 24-9 halftime deficit by keeping Louisiana Monroe off the scoreboard in the second half with the winning touchdown scored with 3:10 to play in the game on a 64 yard scoring pass from Brooks Haack to Jamal Robinson. The Ragin’ Cajuns overcame being outgained 341-261 in the contest; both teams finished with 15 first downs and won the time of possession battle 31:47 to 28:13. In addition, Louisiana Lafayette forced the only two turnovers in the contest, which proved crucial in the victory.
The Ragin’ Cajuns enter this contest 94th in the nation in passing offense (196.3 yards per game) and 19th in the nation in rushing as they put up 220 yards per game on the ground. Louisiana Lafayette averages 30.1 points per game and they are 97th in the nation in scoring defense as they allow 31.9 points per contest. Jalen Nixon has completed 74 of 138 passes for 810 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions while ranking second on the team with 368 yards and four scores. Brooks Haack (45 of 79, 564 yards, TD, 4 INT, 110 rushing yards, 2 TD) is the backup quarterback. Elijah McGuire is the team’s leading rusher with 129 carries for 676 yards and nine scores while Torrey Pierce has contributed 52 carries for 286 yards and four touchdowns. Gabe Fuselier is the team’s leading receiver with 25 catches for 254 yards and a score; McGuire has 25 catches for 275 yards and two scores out of the backfield. Al Riles has 24 receptions for 237 yards plus two scores and Jamal Robinson (20 grabs, team high 337 yards, 3 TD) are good secondary options. Stevie Artigue is 22 of 23 on extra points and 5 of 8 on field goal attempts with a long of 41 yards.
Georgia State held the lead after three quarters but was outscored 21-0 in the final stanza to end up a loser. The Panthers scored on a kick return and an interception return but struggled to make plays offensively at times. Georgia State was outgained 520-491 in the contest and allowed 28 first downs while finishing with 21 of their own. The Panthers forced three turnovers while committing a pair of their own and lost the time of possession battle 31:09 to 28:51; they simply couldn’t hold off Arkansas State late in the game.
The Panthers are a solid offensive team through the air, ranking 13th in the nation in passing offense (335.9 yards per game) but they have struggled on the ground as they put up 88.6 yards per contest, leaving them 126th in the nation in that category. Georgia State averages 26.1 points but they struggle defensively as they allow 37.3 points per game; that puts them 113th in the nation in scoring defense. Nick Arbuckle has completed 172 of 268 passes for 2,351 yards with 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions on the year. The run game averages a measly 3 yards per carry; Kyler Neal is the team’s leading rusher with 66 carries for 248 yards and three scores while Demarcus Kirk is next with 47 carries for 175 yards plus a score. Five receivers have double digit receptions for the Panthers: Penny Hart leads the team with 41 catches for 641 yards and four scores; Robert Davis (36 grabs, 514 yards, 3 TD), Keith Rucker (18 grabs, 226 yards, 3 TD) and Todd Boyd (16 catches, 141 yards, TD) are other targets for Arbuckle. Wil Lutz has banged through 21 of 22 extra points and 8 of 12 field goals on the year, including a pair of 50 yard kicks.
Louisiana Lafayette is 4-0-1 ATS in their last five after throwing for less than 170 yards in their last game, 12-3 ATS in their last 15 on the road against teams with a losing home record and 3-1-1 ATS in their last five in November. Georgia State is 2-5 ATS in their last seven conference games, 1-4 ATS in their last five in November, 1-5 ATS in their last six after allowing at least 40 points and 0-6 ATS in their last six at home.
The Ragin’ Cajuns played well last week, especially in the second half and will look to carry that momentum into this contest. Conversely, Georgia State blew their chance at a win by falling apart in the fourth quarter against Arkansas State and ended up with a loss. Momentum carries the day at times in college sports; look for the Ragin’ Cajuns to get the victory in this one to get back to the .500 mark.