The Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (4-4, 3-1) will travel to face the South Alabama Jaguars (4-4, 2-2) in a Sun Belt Conference matchup Thursday night. The Ragin’ Cajuns have won two of the three previous meetings, including a 19-9 triumph as a 7 point favorite at home on November 1, 2014 in the most recent matchup.
Louisiana Lafayette won their second straight game with a 23-21 win on the road over Georgia State. South Alabama came off a bye and downed Idaho 52-45 in a wild shootout at home Saturday. This contest is scheduled for a 7:30 pm ET kickoff from Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama and will be televised on ESPNU. South Alabama is currently favored by 2.5 points in this contest.
Louisiana Lafayette jumped to a 17-7 lead after one quarter but had to rally in the fourth quarter to erase a 21-17 deficit. Stevie Artigue’s third field goal of the game, a 21 yard kick, with 6:59 to play after a failed fake punt by Georgia State gave the Ragin’ Cajuns the win. Louisiana Lafayette was outgained 390-307 and gave up 21 first downs while picking up 19 in the contest. The Ragin’ Cajuns scored on a blocked punt in their 17 point first quarter outburst; both teams turned the ball over once while Louisiana Lafayette won the time of possession battle 31:25 to 28:35 in the contest.
The Ragin’ Cajuns enter this contest 98th in the nation in passing offense (192 yards per game) and 25th in the nation in rushing as they put up 210.6 yards per game on the ground. Louisiana Lafayette averages 29.2 points per game and they are 91st in the nation in scoring defense as they allow 30.5 points per contest. Jalen Nixon has completed 74 of 140 passes for 810 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions while ranking second on the team with 368 yards and four scores. Brooks Haack (63 of 104, 726 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT, 125 rushing yards, 2 TD) is the backup quarterback. Elijah McGuire is the team’s leading rusher with 150 carries for 749 yards and nine scores while Torrey Pierce has contributed 66 carries for 339 yards and four touchdowns. Gabe Fuselier is the team’s second leading receiver with 27 catches for 268 yards and a score; McGuire has 27 catches for 274 yards and two scores out of the backfield. Al Riles has a team leading 32 receptions for 340 yards plus three scores and Jamal Robinson (23 grabs, team high 370 yards, 3 TD) are good secondary options. Stevie Artigue is 24 of 25 on extra points and 8 of 12 on field goal attempts with a long of 49 yards.
South Alabama was down 24-7 at the half but exploded for 45 second half points to get the come from behind win. The Jaguars were outgained 494-400, gave up 27 first downs while picking up 19 and lost the time of possession battle 36:26 to 23:34 in the game. South Alabama turned the ball over twice but forced three Vandals turnovers; the Jaguars ran a fumble back for a score and added a 100 yard kickoff return on the second half kickoff to help spur the South Alabama comeback in the victory.
The Jaguars are 70th in the nation in passing offense as they average 221 yards through the air; the team is 81st in the nation in rushing offense as they average 159.5 yards per game on the ground. South Alabama averages 26.8 points a game but they struggle defensively as they are 119th in the nation in scoring defense by allowing an average of 38.6 points per contest. Cody Clements is the starter at quarterback; he’s hit 124 of 232 throws for 1,707 yards with 12 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. If he goes down, Dallas Davis (five of seven, 54 yards, TD) is next in line. Xavier Johnson is the team’s leading rusher with 84 carries for 651 yards and five touchdowns while Tyreis Thomas contributes 88 carries for 423 yards on the ground. In the passing game, Gerald Everett is Clements’ favorite target with 31 receptions for 439 yards and six scores. Josh Magee (16 receptions, team high 421 yards, 3 TD), D.J. Vinson (15 catches, 130 yards) and Marvin Shinn (12 receptions, 249 yards, TD) are the only other players with more than 10 grabs on the year. Aleem Sunanon has kicked all 23 extra points and 11 of 14 field goal attempts with a long of 49 yards.
Louisiana Lafayette is 1-3-2 ATS in their last six after a straight up win, 1-4-1 ATS in their last six overall and 1-6-1 ATS in their last eight on fieldturf.
This one could easily swing either way as both teams have been wildly inconsistent this season. It seems that Haack has stepped ahead of Nixon in the depth chart as far as the starting quarterback goes. South Alabama can ill afford to fall behind double digits again if they want to have a chance to get a win. This will be a tight game all the way but the Jaguars, playing at home, should be able to scrape out the win and send the fans home happy.