FACTS & STATS: Site: Cajun Field (36,900) — Lafayette, Louisiana.
Television: None. Home Record: ASU 3-2, Louisiana 4-1. Away Record: ASU 2-3,
Louisiana 3-2. Neutral Record: ASU 0-0, Louisiana 0-0. Conference Record: ASU
4-2, Louisiana 6-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Two of the hottest teams in the Sun Belt Conference will go toe-
to-toe at Cajun Field on Saturday afternoon, as the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns
play host to the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
ASU’s first season in the Sun Belt and as an FBS member started off slowly, as
it sat with a 1-5 record in mid-October, but it has found its stride late in
the season by ripping off four straight victories to climb all the way to 5-5.
Last week’s win was the Mountaineers’ most impressive yet, as they went on the
road to beat Arkansas State, 37-32, to improve to 4-2 in conference play.
Since losing three straight to close out its non-conference slate, Louisiana
has dominated Sun Belt competition with wins in all six of its league
matchups, most recently downing ULM on the road last Saturday, 34-27. At 6-0
in conference play, the Cajuns are in a virtual tie with Georgia Southern
(7-0) for first place, but could be in store for a shared title as the two
teams won’t play one another.
These newly formed conference rivals have never before played one another.
The Mountaineers boast an outstanding offensive attack with 34.8 ppg and 468.1
ypg. Their scoring average has jumped to 42.6 ppg over the last five, and in
last week’s win they amassed 549 yards.
Marcus Cox is the focal point of the offense and has been tremendous this
season, turning 194 carries into 1,142 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was the
catalyst last week with 229 rushing yards and two touchdowns while adding 54
Taylor Lamb has impressed under center, completing greater than 62 percent of
his passes for 1,963 yards with 17 touchdowns (four rushing) and seven
Simms McElfresh (38 receptions, 441 yards, five TDs) and Malachi Jones (33
receptions, 497 yards, three TDs) are both in the midst of solid campaigns out
ASU’s offensive surge of late has helped mask a vulnerable defense, which
allows 28.4 ppg and 354.6 ypg, although the unit has made its share of big
plays with 18 takeaways.
Doug Middleton (63 tackles) and Joel Ross both have three interceptions, and
Latrell Gibbs has picked off two passes. John Law is the leading tackler with
68 stops and Ronald Blair has made plenty of plays behind the line of
scrimmage with 10.0 TFL and 4.0 sacks.
While the Cajuns’ offense isn’t as potent as the Mountaineers’, the unit has
still been impressive in its own right with 30.9 ppg and 427.0 ypg.
The offense’s strength comes in the backfield. Elijah McGuire has been
explosive with 960 yards (7.6 ypc) and 11 touchdowns, while Alonzo Harris (129
carries, 591 yards, nine TDs) acts as the bruiser. Harris had a big game last
week with 133 yards.
Quarterback Terrance Broadway has had his hand in the potent rushing attack
with 556 yards and two touchdowns, although his passing numbers have lagged
behind. He’s completing less than 60 percent of his passes for 1,766 yards, 12
touchdowns and nine interceptions.
McGuire is the team’s leading receiver, catching 35 balls out of the backfield
for 379 yards and two scores. James Butler (366 yards) and Al Riles (279
yards, TD) are the top wideouts with 24 catches apiece.
Defensively, Louisiana has been solid if unspectacular, allowing 27.7 ppg and
424.2 ppg while forcing just 12 turnovers.
Christian Ringo is arguably the biggest defensive difference maker in the
league with 19.5 TFL and 10.5 sacks. Corey Trim and Dominique Tovell are the
leading tacklers with 56 and 53, respectively, with Trim adding a pair of
ASU is surging up the standings in recent weeks and has the necessary
firepower to keep that momentum rolling in this matchup, but the Cajuns have
been just as hot and will find a way to pull this one out in front of their
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana 41, Appalachian State 35