UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (4-1 SU, 3-2 ATS) vs. North Texas Mean Green (2-4 SU, 2-4 ATS)
College Football Week 8
Date/Time: Tuesday, October 16th, 2012/9:00 p.m. EST
Where: Apogee Stadium, Denton, Texas
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Louisiana Lafayette -4/NT +4
Over/Under Total: 57
The Sun Belt Conference is back in the national spotlight again with a rare Tuesday Night primetime game on ESPN2, let’s hope the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns and North Texas Mean Green can bring something other than cool nicknames to the party to make the conference proud.
The Ragin’ Cajuns are 4-1 overall and tied atop the Sun Belt standings with a 2-0 record, so they are certainly worthy of primetime status, but they’ll be without veteran QB Blaine Gautier. Gautier was splitting time with Terrance Broadway at QB until he broke his hand two weeks ago (in 48-20 win over Florida International), and his leadership (over 3,000 yards passing last year) was supposed to be the key to the Cajuns’ attack.
Last week the Cajuns didn’t miss Gautier at all in a, 41-13, rout of Tulane back on October 6th, but with 294 yards rushing 5.5 ypc) against Tulane, the passing issues of Broadway (only 9-of-22, INT) and the Cajuns offense without the “passing QB” didn’t come into play. Lafayette might not get that lucky this week against the Mean Green.
One week after finishing September with their first Sun Belt win, North Texas ventured out of conference last time out (Oct. 6th) and they got spanked by Houston, 44-21. There’s no doubt that the Mean Green is hoping that playing LSU, Kansas State and Houston in out of conference games that it will help them in the long run, as North Texas tries to stay in the Sun Belt race.
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Oddsmakers opened the Tuesday night Sun Belt special with Louisiana-Lafayette as 4-point favorites on the road at the newly built Apogee Stadium. As of 24 hours to kickoff and the point spread hasn’t moved much, with a scant few offshore sportsbooks down to Cajuns minus -3.5.
The over/under total opened late on Monday at a few offshore books at 57 (5Dimes is 56.5), but it has yet to show any movement at this early stage.
Offensively the Ragin’ Cajuns are way more talented than North Texas, but the wildcard in the mix is the sophomore Broadway. Broadway, who started at Houston before transferring back to Lafayette, is still only five games into his collegiate career and is still pretty green and raw. Lafayette is blessed with a plethora of talent at receiver (Javone Lawson, Harry Peoples, Darryl Surgent) too, but with Broadway hitting on less than 45 percent of his passes in two of his last three games, that perimeter talent might have trouble getting out of the chute.
The best player North Texas has to offer on Tuesday is receiver Brelan Chancellor, who averages 8.5 yards a rush and 18.8 yards per catch (six total TDs). The fact that the Ragin’ Cajun secondary is one of the worst in the country (allowing 295 ypg - 117th) sure makes Chancellor look like an easy choice for the Mean Green offense, but they haven’t scored on anyone this season (19.5 ppg - 110th), so maybe it isn’t so obvious.
Lafayette has won five straight games in the series with North Texas, including last year’s game in Lafayette, 30-10. North Texas hasn’t beaten the Ragin’ Cajuns at home in Denton since the 2003 season, so home field hasn’t meant much in the Lafayette-North Texas series of late.
The road team is a strong 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings, but that doesn’t always translate into a Ragin’ Cajun cover since Lafayette is just 3-9 ATS in the last 12 head-to-heads with the Mean Green.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The easy play here is to take Louisiana-Lafayette because they’re the chalk and they really do have more talent on their team. But I’m still not convinced they’re balanced enough without Gautier to loosen defenses up with the pass. Both offenses struggle in primetime. I’m taking the under of 57.
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