Louisiana-Lafayette and New Mexico State Look to Keep Bowl Hopes Alive

Georgia Southern Eagles (1-9, 1-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (5-5, 4-2)

Time: November 25, 2017 5 pm EST

Where: Cajun Field, Lafayette, LA

TV: ESPN3/WatchESPN

Odds: Louisiana-Lafayette -6, O/U = 57

Series: Louisiana-Lafayette 1-0 (’16 ULL 33-26)

The Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns will face a surprisingly resurgent Georgia Southern squad fresh off a dominant 52-0 first win of the season last week vs. South Alabama. Louisiana is coming off a controversial 47-34 win over NM State themselves. It will be Senior Day at Cajun Field and Chad Lunsford would like nothing more than to play the wrestling heel.

Louisiana has juggled three QBs all season. Jordan Davis got the call vs. the Aggies after freshman Levi Lewis was ruled out pregame with an ankle injury. Davis ended up accounting for 290 yards of offense and three touchdowns against NM State. Levi Lewis is listed as Probable and could see some action. Andre Nunez is still recovering from a concussion.

The Cajuns are a well-balanced offense that averages over 30 points per game. Trey Ragas added 132 yards on 23 carries and 2 TDs; Ryheem Malone had seven catches and 113 and a TD himself. Malone along with Keenan Barnes, Ja’Marcus Bradley, and Michael Jacquet provide whoever plays QB with a myriad of options.

A Senior Day with bowl eligibility on the line (a Tulane-ULL matchup in the New Orleans Bowl would be epic) is a hard spot for any road team to win in. But Georgia Southern might have gotten its swagger back under Lunsford after going Ralphie on South Alabama last week. It was the final nail in the coffin on Joey Jones’ coaching career.

Georgia Southern quarterback Shai Werts was named the SBC Offensive Player of the Week after his masterful performance last week. Werts ran for 113 yards and threw for 107 with 2 TDs. The test for Werts and the Eagles is duplicating that performance. It’s one thing to get off the snide; it’s another thing entirely to finish the drill.

Georgia Southern’s defense most notably has improved over the past three games. Pitching a shutout seemed like an impossibility a month ago, yet the Eagle defense turned it around. DB Monquavion Brinson’s performance, in particular, has been nothing short of impressive; he’s only a sophomore.

Despite Georgia Southern’s resurgence last week, I think the combination of Senior Day plus bowl eligibility being on the line will motivate the Cajuns past the Eagles. I expect a hard fought game and a close one. If I were a betting man I would take Lunsford and the points, but Hudspeth needs this game more. Getting back to a bowl game would be a major morale boost for a program that has had a rough past few years.

Louisiana 24, Georgia Southern 21

Idaho Vandals (3-7, 2-4) vs. New Mexico State Aggies (4-6, 2-4)

Time: November 25, 2017 2pm MT

Where: Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces, NM

TV: ESPN3/WatchESPN

Radio: 99.5 KXPZ-FM (TuneIn App)

Odds: NM State -9.5, O/U = 56

Series: Idaho 16-7 (’16 UI 55-23)

December 31, 1960.

New Mexico State beat Utah State 20-13 in the Sun Bowl. That was the last time New Mexico State played in a bowl game.

Dwight D. Eisenhower was President of the United States.

Nikita Khrushchev was Premier of the U.S.S.R.

Elvis Presley was No. 1 in the box office and on the Billboard charts.

That was a really, really long time ago. To say that Aggies fans are starving for their first bowl trip in 57 years is the understatement of the century. NM State is just two wins away from doing just that, with winnable matchups vs. Idaho and South Alabama to finish out.

This game is the last matchup between these two schools as members of the Sun Belt. Next year Idaho becomes the first FBS program ever to drop down to FCS, they will join the Big Sky. New Mexico State will remain in FBS as an Independent. Read more about that situation here. (hat-tip Dr. Nic)

NM State goes up against an Idaho squad missing their starting QB Matt Linehan. The Vandals switched one coach’s son to another when they promoted sophomore quarterback Mason Petrino (son of Paul) to be the starter.

Petrino completed 18 of 26 passes for 177 yards with a touchdown and an interception last week against Louisiana. He has played better than Linehan in a smaller sample size; it will be interesting to see if that continues. Vandals receivers Alfonso Onunwor and Jacob Sannon are tied for the team lead in receptions with 54 a piece.

If Idaho wants to win Saturday, riding their RBs Aaron Duckworth and Isaiah Saunders will be key. NM State’s run defense has struggled recently, giving up 221 yards and 5.3 yards a carry in the past two games.

Both defenses rank in the 100s overall. But LB Dalton Harrington of NM State is going to be on the all-conference team. He has 104 tackles, 14 TFLs, and 5.5 sacks this season. The Idaho defense, on the other hand, has a talented front four lead by Tony Lashlee, Kaden Ellis, and Leonard Hazewood.

NM State will most likely be without their starting QB Tyler Rogers who’s out with a shoulder injury. Nick Jeanty will get the call in his stead. He’ll have to shake a three-interception performance. Larry Rose III, Jason Hundley, and Jaleel Scott are going to have to step up and support Jeanty if they want to keep their bowl hopes alive.

Prediction: NMSU 45, Idaho 31

Read more about NM State’s controversial loss to Louisiana-Lafayette here:

http://www.forgotten5.com/2017/11/19/new-mexico-state-aggies-ragin-cajuns-bowl-eligibility/

 

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