Following a statement win in Manhattan, KS, Mississippi State returns home to face another team with upset potential. Louisiana put on a 49-17 show against Grambling, as they look to carry that momentum into Starkville. Like Kansas State, they may not be a top 25 team, but thrive on playing the potential role of spoiler.
The Bulldogs return home and are riding on a high, as coach Joe Moorhead’s system seems to be panning out just fine. But as we have seen time and time again, one team under the radar comes out of nowhere with a monumental upset, ultimately crushing one’s playoff dreams.
In their win over Grambling, the Ragin’ Cajuns boasted a lethal offensive attack, with two formidable quarterbacks as well as a two-headed monster in the backfield. They are quick and agile, fit for an uptempo system. Given their offensive firepower, the Bulldogs must be on point and match their speed. In addition, finishing tackles, especially in the secondary is key.
Led by senior signal caller Andre Nunez, Louisiana will want to jump out of the gate. If able to do so, look for the sophomore backup Levi Lewis to also get time in hopes of providing a change of pace here and there. Both are also dual threats, as it will be more than important to set the edge and get a good push up front.
Nunez and Lewis combined to throw for 241 yards and four touchdowns. The two were able to buy significant time in the picket while also comfortable throwing on the run. Bulldog defensive ends Montez Sweat and Gerri Green cannot afford to let either escape.
That said, if either quarterback converts on a pass, Mississippi State’s secondary cannot afford to miss tackles in the open field. Louisiana’s speed is too great and more than capable of burning defenders. Cornerbacks Jamal Peters and Cameron Dantzler must be on full lockdown with safeties Mark McLaurin Jonathan Abram patrolling center field.
But what about between the tackles? Ragin’ Cajun running backs Trey Ragas and Raymond Calais combined for 211 yards on 20 attempts and two touchdowns. Given the one-two punch that is Ragas and Calais combined with the two quarterbacks mentioned above, it is on the Bulldogs’ linebackers to take the lead. It will be up to Willie Gay Jr., Erroll Thompson, and Leo Lewis to set the tone early.
Luckily for the Bulldogs, the game will be played under the “Stark Vegas” lights and in front of a rocking crowd with plenty of cowbells in hand. Look for each of Louisiana’s two-headed monsters to make an impact, but not one that is enough to leave Starkville with a W. Having said that, make no mistake that the Ragin’ Cajuns’ are more than excited to play spoiler this Saturday night.