The Louisiana Ragin Cajuns may have lost on the road to the Troy Trojans, but they still control their own fate with their next two games inside the friendly confines of Cajun Field against some of the lower level Sun Belt Conference teams. The first of which is the Georgia State Panthers, who are winless in conference play.
Without further ado, let’s get into the preview!
Last Time Out:
It was a rough outing on the road for the Cajuns last Saturday against Troy. Without Elijah Mitchell, the offense was stymied in a 26-10 loss to the Troy Trojans. Things weren’t much better for Georgia State as the Panthers fell to Texas State by the score of 40-31.
The last time these two teams faced off was all the way back in 2015. While that doesn’t seem all that long ago, for perspective the head coaches from that matchup are no longer at their respective school with Trent Miles getting the boot in 2016 and Mark Hudspeth being axed at the end of the 2017 season.
The outcome in 2015 saw the Cajuns just get past the Panthers 23-21 after starting out with a 17-7 lead after the first quarter. These two teams have only met three times before with the Cajuns winning all three matchups, but they’ve all been fairly competitive with two of the three being determined by a field goal.
Storylines to Watch:
Does Mitchell Play?
Elijah Mitchell’s presence was sorely missed for a Cajuns offense that couldn’t get out of first gear against the Troy Trojans as he missed the game with a neck injury. According to head coach Billy Napier, the sophomore is a game-time decision for Georgia State.
Mitchell has been a big part of the offensive identity of the Cajuns both on the ground and through the air in 2018. Losing him for a second straight game would be a huge loss and the Cajuns would have to rely on their other steady hands in Raymond Calais and Trey Ragas. It’ll be interesting to see the gameplan for Saturday if the Erath product isn’t 100 percent after taking a big hit against Arkansas State two weeks ago.
Can Defense Hold Up?
The Cajuns defense has had a tendency to allow points in bunches the last couple of seasons, but they’ve started to find their identity the last couple of weeks. While the record doesn’t show you that, think about their most recent losses. Previous teams were housed by the two teams with some consistency, especially with Appalachian State.
The Cajuns defense is starting to keep things competitive with some of the top-level offenses in the conference. Yes, the Arkansas State game is an outlier but with a Georgia State team that has an average of 26 points per game coming to Cajun Field, you can expect the Cajuns to hold the Panthers down in a big way and maybe have their best game of the season on the defensive side of the ball.
After getting through the gauntlet of Appalachian State, Arkansas State, and Troy there’s still a lot to play for. Obviously, they can get bowl eligible with two more wins and those seem fairly attainable with a pair of home games against Georgia State and Alabama.
It’s not the only thing they’re playing for and if they run the table, the Cajuns will be the champions of the Western Division and exceeding some preseason expectations. This team is going to be amped on Saturday, but they’ll need to treat it one game at a time like they’ve done all season and I have trust in Billy Napier to get this team ready for just that.
Louisiana Will Win If:
The Cajuns can take care of business on Saturday if their defense can hold down the Panthers offense to under 30 points. After their performance against Troy, perhaps they can do just that and get one step closer to becoming bowl-eligible.
Georgia State Will Win If:
The Panthers can get the win if their offense can catch fire. They may be a 2-7 team, but their win over UL Monroe saw a lot of fireworks in a 46-14 win. If they can have that kind of performance, it’ll be difficult to keep up, even for one of the best offenses in the conference