Where and When: October 20, 2018, Kidd Brewer Stadium, Boone, NC, 3:30 PM ET
The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns rebounded from three consecutive losses by knocking off Texas State and New Mexico State, and now, they’ll have the herculean task of going on the road and playing against the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
The Mountaineers haven’t lost a game since their season opener to Penn State, and their defense has held every opponent since that game to under 10 points. They are coming off a one-sided road win over Arkansas State.
How does Louisiana plan to keep pace with an offense averaging 48.4 points per game?
Nunez’s air raid boosts Louisiana’s offense
Louisiana senior quarterback Andre Nunez looked like an entirely different player last week when he was carving up New Mexico State’s defense. It was raining touchdowns on a season-high night for Nunez, who finished with 315 passing yards and five touchdowns.
Even the 19 pass completions were an eye-popping statistic considering he has been held to under 10 completions in each of his last three outings.
— Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns® Football (@RaginCajunsFB) October 14, 2018
No one expects Nunez to develop into an elite passer overnight, capable of reeling off multiple 300-yard passing games in a row. He’s too far into his collegiate career to expect that type of a seismic shift in his productivity.
However, he is certainly capable of meeting those expectations halfway by making better reads and taking what the defense gives him. Louisiana is a better football team overall when he is completing passes and establishing some form of rhythm on offense.
Everyone is well aware of the explosiveness the running back duo of Elijah Mitchell and Trey Ragas brings to the offense, but the team desperately needs that same kind of consistency from its quarterback.
Appalachian State continues to roll with a cupcake schedule
The season-opener against Penn State is the toughest game Appalachian State has played all season, and that will likely remain the case for the rest of 2018. Sure, there are some interesting conference games down the road against Georgia Southern and Troy, but Appalachian State should still be favored heavily to win both of those games.
Arkansas State, like so many others on the schedule, was a deer standing on the train tracks, staring at a speeding locomotive with no chance of slowing it down. The game was over before the second-half as Appalachian State piled on 21 points and put Arkansas State’s offense in the impossible position of playing behind against one of college football’s best defenses.
After an OT game at Penn State to start the year, App State has outscored its other opponents 204-32 overall, including 65-0 in the 2nd half pic.twitter.com/9efDcUezZm
— App State Football (@AppState_FB) October 13, 2018
They are holding opposing offenses to an average of 15.4 points per game, while their offense consistently lights up the scoreboard. Running back Darrynton Evans had 16 carries for 115 yards and one touchdown against Arkansas State, and quarterback Zac Thomas finished with 144 passing yards and two touchdowns, along with 76 rushing yards and one touchdown run.
As Penn State learned in Week 1, this is a difficult team to beat when they’re rolling on all cylinders.
- Mountaineers are 4-0 ATS in 4 games played at home
- Mountaineers are 9-0 ATS in last 9 games
- Mountaineers are 10-1 ATS in last 11 games after giving up less than 20 points the previous week
- Mountaineers are 5-0 ATS in last 5 games played within their conference
- Ragin’ Cajuns are 1-4 ATS in last 5 games after a win
- Ragin’ Cajuns are 2-6 ATS in last 8 games after scoring over 40 points the previous week
- Ragin’ Cajuns are 1-4 ATS against teams with a winning record
- Ragin’ Cajuns are 0-5-1 ATS in last 6 games after winning their previous game by more than 20 points
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Nunez is about to be the next quarterback with the deer in the headlights look against Appalachian State’s imposing defense. There simply isn’t enough consistency with his ability to throw the ball down field to expect him to go into Boone and beat the Mountaineers in their home building.
The true hurdle for Louisiana will be their suspect defense holding up against Appalachian State’s underrated offense. It’s hard to envision a defense allowing 216.8 rushing yards per game keeping Evans in check.
The sophomore running back has been handed the reins in the offensive backfield after starter Jalin Moore went down with a season-ending injury, and he has shown similar dynamic play-making abilities to his predecessor.
Playing against Appalachian State also comes with the difficult task of containing Thomas, who is capable of taking off from the pocket and moving the chains with his legs. That kind of threat generally freezes a defense and opens up so many other areas for an offense to exploit.
Louisiana will find themselves in the familiar spot of playing from behind early and failing to rally for a comeback.
Prediction: Appalachian State Mountaineers (-24.5)
Full-Game Total Pick
Appalachian State’s offense could pile on the points playing against Louisiana’s porous defense, but there won’t be much action when the roles are reversed. Louisiana has its own challenges offensively, and they’ll be facing a monstrous defensive unit on the road. I don’t like those odds for them contributing to a gaudy 66-point total.
Prediction: Under (66)