The Ohio Bobcats travel to southern Louisiana in search of their first win of the 2021 season when they face the Ragin' Cajuns from the Sun Belt on Thursday.
Ohio is coming off a 28-26 loss to FCS opponent Duquesne. The Bobcats rallied from a 25-13 deficit in the fourth quarter, only to be thwarted at a two-point attempt that failed with only nine seconds remaining in the contest.
Despite the close loss, Ohio's defensive tackle Kai Caesar is focusing on trying to get the Bobcats' 2021 season turned around. Postgame, Caesar said, "My grandma would say, 'Looking at the sun, you never see the shadows.' ... As leaders, we need to keep our heads high, and those younger guys will see that. They will understand what we're wanting, and they do understand what we want to accomplish with this team. So, the biggest thing is just leading even when it hurts. As I tell myself all the time: It's easy to lead when stuff is going good, but you got to know how to lead when it hurts. So, we'll do it. We'll get it done."
Louisiana earned its first win of the season with a 27-24 win over FCS Nicholls. The Ragin' Cajuns actually had a 27-10 lead in the fourth quarter and were able to withstand a two-touchdown effort by the Colonels to hold on for the victory. The win evened Louisiana's 2021 record at 1-1.
While Louisiana did not have a dominant performance offensively versus Nicholls, the Ragin' Cajuns had a strong defensive performance. They had 69 tackles, five tackles for loss, and three sacks. Ragin' Cajuns safety Percy Butler led the team last Saturday with 10 tackles, including two for a loss.
This game will mark the fourth time that the two teams have met, with Ohio holding a 2-1 lead in the series. Louisiana defeated Ohio the last time the teams played, a 45-25 win in 2019.
Ohio at Louisiana
Kickoff: Thursday, Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. ET
Spread: Louisiana -22
When Ohio Has the Ball
Through two games, Ohio has struggled to effectively run the ball. O'Shaan Allison carried 12 times for 76 yards versus Duquesne, but the Bobcats will need to run the ball better versus Louisiana.
Kurtis Rourke keys the Ohio passing game and has completed 35 passes on 50 attempts for 310 yards, one touchdown, and one interception this season. Rourke may need to supplement the Bobcats' running game, or it could be a challenging game versus the Ragin' Cajuns. Rourke has one rushing touchdown this season and has averaged 4.9 yards per carry.
The Ragin' Cajuns may try to crowd the line of scrimmage, daring the Bobcats to throw. Louisiana boasts some quality pass rushers on their roster, with Jourdan Quibodeaux (0.5), Zi'Yon Hill (1), Chauncey Manac (0.5), and Mason Narcisse (1) all combining to total three sacks in their win over the Colonels.
When Louisiana Has the Ball
Louisiana is also struggling to run the ball effectively. In the win over Nicholls, Louisiana ran for 113 yards, with Chris Smith carrying the ball 11 times for a team-leading 46 yards.
Lousiana fared much better through the air, with Ragin' Cajuns quarterback Levi Lewis completing 19 passes on 33 attempts for 304 yards and two touchdowns. Lewis spread the ball around fairly evenly, with Michael Jefferson, John Stephens Jr., and Kyren Lacy each having three receptions.
Ohio gave up 194 passing yards and 168 rushing yards to Duquesne. Among the Bobcats' leaders were Jett Elad (11 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 2 passes defended, and 1 quarterback hurry) and Bryce Houston (10 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss). Ohio will need to put pressure on Lewis and the Ragin' Cajuns' passing game.
Louisiana struggled in its season-opening loss to Texas (38-18) and had to hold on versus Nicholls in Week 2. Even with those ups and downs, Louisiana will have the advantage of playing at home, versus an opponent in Ohio that seems to be struggling offensively.
Prediction: Louisiana 38, Ohio 17
Podcast: Recapping Week 2 + All of the Numbers to Know in College Football