Why Louisiana Will Win
– How can Louisiana pull this off after losing the first time around? The Ragin’ Cajuns might have sputtered a bit running the ball against Appalachian State, but they’ve been terrific all season long – including tearing off 236 against the Chanticleers. They’ve been able to come up with wins thanks to a quick tempo, the great ground game, and by coming up with the big scoring marches when they have to. But in this, they have to run for 200 yards just to be in the discussion.
– The secondary has been a rock. Iowa State was missing its great TE Charlie Kolar … yeah, yeah, yeah. Brock Purdy only hit 46% of his passes for 145 yards and no touchdowns with a pick against Louisiana. The Ragin’ Cajun secondary has picked off 15 passes – 12 in the last six games – and allowed use eight touchdown passes on the season. In the last six games since the loss to Coastal Carolina, four teams failed to hit 50% of their throws.
– Can Levi Lewis get passing? Coastal Carolina can be thrown on, giving up over 300 yards a few times, having problems last week against the Troy passing attack, and getting hit from time to time by big plays. Lewis only hit 8-of-23 passes against Appalachian State, and he was fine against Coastal Carolina – throwing for 177 yards and connecting on his mid-range passes – but he’s the veteran in his second Sun Belt Championship as the main man, and his third overall.
Why Coastal Carolina Will Win
– Yeah, the Louisiana secondary has been outstanding, it’s third in the nation in pass efficiency defense, and its fourth in the country in pass defense. It only allowed more than one touchdown pass once – to Coastal Carolina. It only had one game without an interception – against Coastal Carolina. Only two teams were able to complete more than 60% of their passes – Georgia Southern with 61%, and Coastal Carolina, with Grayson McCall connecting on 71% of his throws.
– Grayson McCall continues to be special. The redshirt freshman quarterback battled through a tough game against BYU and a big fight with Troy to hit 83% of his passes against the Trojans while leading the way to the game-winning drive. He was brilliant against Louisiana, hitting 71% of his throws for 202 yards and two scores – he was able to keep things moving when the running game occasionally stalled.
– Pace matters. Louisiana likes to go in a bit of a hurry, but it has the running game to gear down if it has to. However, in the first game, Coastal Carolina have the ball for over 38 minutes and was able to be in control until the end. Expect a repeat – the Chanticleers are more deliberate, leading the Sun Belt in time of possession. They’re going to have the ball for almost ten minutes longer – again.