There were supposed to be two games on October 12. One would be bad and one would be good. Well, now there’s only one, so, by default, since we all love football, it has to be good, right? The Texas State Bobcats trek from San Marcos to Lafayette, LA to take on the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns in some good ol’ fashioned Fun Belt…fun? The Ragin’ Cajuns are favored by two touchdowns plus a hook, which, as John Popper once told me, brings you back. I ain’t tellin’ you no lie!
In all seriousness, there is a lot to unpack about this game. The fact that the line is only 14.5 with a team that scores 14.5 points per game as the underdog is pretty interesting. The Bobcats are 1-5 straight up with a win over Houston Baptist, but losses to all five FBS opponents. They are 2-4 against the spread, but have badly failed at attempting to cover the spread in the last three games. The Ragin’ Cajuns are 2-3 straight up and either 1-3-1, 2-3, or 1-4 against the number, depending on the lines that you have played with them this season. Each of the last three games for Texas State has gone over the total, as the opposition nearly hit it once and did hit it once. Four of ULL’s five games have gone over.
For those that do power ratings, there are three certainties in life. Death, taxes, and Texas State being ranked 127th or lower. This season, the Bobcats gave us all a little bit of hope with covers against Colorado and a near upset over Appalachian State, but that proved to be more like pyrite than gold. Since then, the Bobcats have failed to cover by 16.5 points, 18.5 and 12.5 points. Offensively, this team is a mess. The Bobcats have managed 4.5 yards per play, which is on par with last season. They have scored 14.5 points per game. They have managed 301 yards per game. It hasn’t exactly been a who’s who of opponents. Damien Williams has gone 79-of-146 passing for a 54.1 percent success rate with a 4/4 TD/INT ratio. Anthony D. Taylor is the leading rusher with 4.6 yards per pop, but he hasn’t scored a rushing touchdown yet. The sophomore had 11 carries for 21 yards last season.
Head coach Everett Withers and defensive coordinator Randall McCray had to be happy with the defensive growth early in the season, but the bad habits have returned. It doesn’t help that the Bobcats only have four takeaways through six games. Texas State held Colorado to 37 points and Appalachian State to 20 points, but has now allowed 44, 45, and 45 over the last three weeks. UTSA, Wyoming, and Louisiana-Monroe aren’t exactly offensive juggernauts either. For Texas State, every game is a struggle and the defense returning to its usual performance is a big concern heading into this one. If Texas State allows seven yards per play again in this one, it could be a very long day in the Bayou.
The one saving grace for Texas State is that we have virtually no idea what to expect from Louisiana. After topping Southeastern Louisiana 51-48 in the opener, the Ragin’ Cajuns lost 66-42 to Tulsa, 45-21 to Texas A&M, and 56-50 in the rivalry game against Louisiana-Monroe before beating Idaho….21-16. Okay, sure. Jordan Davis is likely to miss this game as well, which means Andre Nunez will get another crack. Nunez has completed 65.6 percent of his throws with a 3/1 TD/INT ratio. Trey Ragas has racked up 7.2 yards per carry and Louisiana has moved the ball effectively on the ground with 16 rushing touchdowns. This is a circled game for Louisiana because the Ragin’ Cajuns won’t play at home again until November 18, so you can bet that they will try to take care of business at Cajun Field.
While the offense has more than held up its end of the bargain, the defense has not. The Ragin’ Cajuns have allowed 6.5 yards per play, which amounts to 507 yards per game on average. This is an enormous decline from last season, when the ULL defense allowed just 25.3 points per game and 379 yards per effort. The Ragin’ Cajuns have allowed 265 rushing yards per game for a 5.3 average. Fortunately for this beleaguered bunch, Texas State doesn’t have much in the way of an offense, so this should be a “get right” game for the host team. On the other hand, Louisiana-Monroe and Southeast Louisiana shouldn’t have done what they did on this defense.
College Football Free Pick: Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns -14.5
My number on this game is -11, but there’s no way that I can back Texas State here. They’re on a short week with a defense that has allowed at least 44 points in each of the last three weeks. Louisiana is not in an ideal spot with long travel back from Idaho, but at least it was a happy flight with a 21-16 win and was just the second road underdog win in the last three seasons. Texas State is going to bring a garden hose full of holes to an off-brand Super Soaker fight and will have a hard time keeping up.