The matchup between the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (1-1) and Texas A&M Aggies (1-1) is a welcomed game for the head coaches of both programs. The Ragin’ Cajuns’ offense has been on fire like a bottle of Louisiana Hot Sauce to start the season, while the Aggies are still searching for their identity on offense like Mike Tyson looking for his mouthpiece in Tokyo. Louisiana could be in position to sneak out of College Station with an upset win if taken lightly, while A&M needs reps against live action to forge chemistry on offense before hitting conference play.
Cajuns head coach Mark Hudspeth has his offense humming; Louisiana is tied for 13th in the nation out of 130 FBS programs in scoring with an average of 46.5 points per game. Junior quarterback Jordan Davis has been on target, bolstered by a stable of backs averaging 244 rushing yards per game. As prolific as the offense has been, the defense has been equally horrific — 127th in the nation, allowing 591 total yards per game.
Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin has all the pieces he needs on the roster for Texas A&M to be a high-achieving team. The internal conflict is style over substance. A&M is ramming the pigskin down the opposition’s throat in the run game, putting up 289 rushing yards per game on average, which includes 382 yards against UCLA. Trayveon Williams, Keith Ford and Kendall Bussey are a deadly trio. Sumlin’s calling card, the passing game, has suffered under true freshman Kellen Mond in the absence of starter Nick Starkel, out with a broken ankle. Sumlin has forsaken winning for style, going with Mond over senior Jake Hubenak. Will this trend continue against Louisiana?
Louisiana vs. Texas A&M
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 16 at 12:00 p.m. ET
TV Channel: SEC Network
Spread: Texas A&M -24
Three Things to Watch
1. Texas A&M quarterback play
Aggie fans could easily second-guess Kevin Sumlin for not putting Jake Hubenak in against UCLA to provide veteran leadership after starter Nick Starkel left the game with a broken ankle. The offense, once again, sputtered under true freshman Kellen Mond against FCS opponent Nicholls in Week 2. Hubenak took over in the third quarter in Week 2, hitting 12-of-15 passes for 93 yards compared to Mond’s 12-of-21 effort with one touchdown. The current depth chart offers no clarification, as Hubenak and Mond are listed with an "or" between them. So chances are both will get their chances on Saturday. Whichever makes the best of them could claim the top spot on the depth chart moving forward.
2. Ragin’ Cajuns offense vs. Aggies' defense
A&M’s defense looked like world beaters during the first half against UCLA in Week 1, holding the Bruins to 10 points, but then the Aggies gave up 35 in the second half, most of that damage coming in the fourth quarter. After two weeks, the defense is among the worst in the nation statistically, allowing 446 yards per game. So which defense will show up? Last week, A&M limited Nicholls to 74 rushing yards, but gave up 264 yards through the air. This may be a dream matchup for Louisiana QB Jordan Davis along with his top receivers, Keenan Barnes and Ryheem Malone.
3. Aggies' passion
After the disappointing loss to UCLA, A&M was lethargic against Nicholls, going into the fourth quarter tied at 14. An SEC team with the Aggies’ resources should not allow this to happen. There is enough talent on hand for A&M to switch into domination mode, unless Sumlin and staff have already lost the team. Jumping out to an early lead while continuing to light up the scoreboard could do wonders for the mindset of this team, not to mention the fan base.
After Louisiana got steamrolled 66-42 by Tulsa last week, Texas A&M should have no problems with the Ragin’ Cajuns — but that was the prevailing thought last week against Nicholls, when the Aggies got the winning score with 7:34 left to play on a Kendall Bussey two-yard run, escaping with a 24-14 victory. Adding to the drama, this could be a trap game for the A&M. Louisiana hosts in-state rival ULM next week, while the Aggies have a neutral-site game in Arlington, Texas, at AT&T Stadium against SEC West foe Arkansas.
A&M has too much talent on both sides of the ball to lose. Can the coaching staff fire the team up to play to its potential?
Prediction: Texas A&M 45, Louisiana 28
— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience and is a member of the FWAA. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and has his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @RyanWrightRNG.