Back ‘Cajuns, ‘Chants Have Key Contest

‘Cajuns, ‘Chants Have Key Contest

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
Follow us at Twitter.com/SouthernPigskin.  Become a fan at the SouthernPigskin.com Facebook Page

Both programs, here, have Sun Belt Championship aspirations.

The spotlight will be on the Sun Belt Wednesday night as undefeated, nationally-ranked Louisiana hosts Coastal Carolina in what may prove to be one of the Group of Five games of the year. Both teams are undefeated and, with the Ragin' Cajuns coming in at 21st in the latest polls and the Chanticleers now up to 32nd, these are two programs that have college football's attention. Louisiana opened the season with a 31-14 win at Iowa State, while Coastal Carolina beat Kansas 38-23.

Rescheduled from last Saturday due to Hurricane Delta, after originally being rescheduled due to covid implications regarding a game with Appalachain State, the contest will be hosted at Cajun Field in Lafeyette after the venue was cleared through inspection. The region, and the Ragin' Cajuns themselves, are still sadly recovering from the impact of a devastating storm. This game will be played with the area in the hearts and minds of all.   

These are two teams, both 3-0 with Power Five wins, that are part of college football's early season story. A primetime showcase, 7:30et on ESPN, will display all that has been accomplished and all that is still within reach. The winner will become even more a part of the national narrative.

Anyway you look at it, Louisiana has, for over a year now, been one of college football's best teams. The Ragin' Cajuns have advanced to the first two, meaning the last two, Sun Belt Conference Championship Games and won the LendingTree Bowl this past season. Billy Napier's squad has now won ten of its past eight eleven games, losing only to Appalachian State by one score in the title bout. Lousiana, in that span, is averaging 35.2 points per game. In addition to the win over Iowa State, the Ragin' Cajuns have rallied past both Georgia State and Georgia Southern in dramatic fashion.

Stars like quarterback Levi Lews, 26 passing touchdowns in 2019, and running backs Elijah Mitchell, 2,591 career rushing yards and 35 touchdowns, and Trey Ragas, 2,957 career rushing yards and 31 touchdowns, have been among the nation's top producers. Louisiana has had one of the game's top rushing games, while also having one of the most proficient passing attacks as well. Linebacker Lorenzo McCaskill and safety Jabari Johnson currently rank first and third in the Sun Belt in total tackles with 36 and 35, respectively.

Playing opponents like Arkansas State and Georgia Southern close last year, Coastal Carolina has now clearly arrived. The Chanticleers have won four straight overall with their two games before the streak coming as losses decided by a total of just four points. The nation has been introduced to Coastal Carolina; the location, the unique nickname, the teal field and, most notably, the good football that is being played. Jamie Chadwell has the Chanticleers positioned as a contender, fresh off a signature 52-23 win over the Red Wolves.

Freshman quarterback Greyson McCall has been a revelation for Coastal Carolina, currently leading the Sun Belt with a passer rating of 207.1. He has a 9-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and is averaging 11.6 yards per pass attempt, good for fourth nationally. Veteran running back C.J. Marable has scored 26 career touchdowns in two-plus years with the team. Defensively, the Chanticleers are tied for sixth in the country with 13 sacks. C.J. Brewer, Silas Kelly and Jeffrey Gunter all have at least three.

Though Louisiana won this past season's game convincingly by a score of 48-7, it was Coastal Carolina who emerged victorious in the last game played in Lafayette, 30-28 in 2018.

Both programs, here, have Sun Belt Championship aspirations. Louisiana is looking for a continuation of recent success, which would likely move them in the national top 20. A triumph for Coastal Carolina would further their best FBS start ever to 4-0 and could result in them moving into the rankings. With the platform and their play, the Ragin' Cajuns and Chanticleers will continue to represent themselves, their conference and the Group of Five overall. There is momentum all of the way around.

Wednesday's game will also importantly bring more attention to the recovery process ongoing in southwest Louisiana and the needs that exist.

Louisiana, who is becoming a regular in the polls, and Coastal Carolina are two teams playing with great confidence and results. The bright lights will shine on programs who have earned their national attention.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports