From the Bird’s Nest: Prediction Time
Well, the first part of that scenario is completed.
The Cajuns have started 2-1. Neither win was a juggernaut, but the idea at the end of the day is to win. And, the Cajuns have done that.
Now they hit the road to face the defending SBC champions and the team starting to get a lot of national love in Florida International.
FIU is 3-0 with two pretty impressive wins; over Louisville on the road and a home win over CUSA favorite Central Florida.
College Gameday was on the FIU campus this week and will do a feature on the Panthers on tomorrow’s show.
This program has come a long way since that well-publicized brawl against the University of Miami several years ago which was the final straw for former coach Don Strock’s regime.
Mario Cristobal has come to FIU, instilled discipline, recruited well and surrounded himself with good coaches, much like what Mark Hudspeth is doing at Louisiana. But Cristobal has a five year head start.
FIU is still a relatively young team, especially on the defensive side of the football, where there is only one senior. And, despite the fact the Panthers have a veteran offense, with a fifth-year senior quarterback and the most exciting player in the league in T. Y. Hilton, it is the defense that impressed me the most.
No one has run against FIU. Period.
Lance Dunbar, who has a great opportunity to become North Texas’ all-time rushing leader and also has a shot at Tyrell Fenroy’s Sun Belt rushing record, had 18 carries, 43 yards. Louisville rushed for 83 yards…..in 41 attempts. Central Florida went to Miami averaging 275 yards rushing per game. They managed 119.
Get the picture?
The Cajuns will start their fourth different running back in four games. And, I’m sure the Cajuns will try to get something going on the ground. But I’m not expecting them to have much, if any success against this Panthers’ defense.
The Cajuns lead the Sun Belt Conference in scoring. But we know the defense has actually had more to do with that than the offense. The defense has scored four touchdowns, and set up two more with fumble recoveries inside the opponents 15 yard line (including one at the one yard line.) And, you can bet Greg Stewart’s defense will come to play on Saturday.
There’s only one problem with the way the Cajuns have done it.
FIU doesn’t turn it over.
Quarterback Wesley Carroll has thrown 72 passes this year without an interception. He’s completed more than 60 percent of his passes. That pick-six string could be in a little jeopardy this week. FIU doesn’t leave it on the ground much, either. They’ve lost only two fumbles. Those numbers mean the Cajuns can’t turn it over at all, because they can’t count on the defense to get a bunch of their own. Louisiana hasn’t had an offensive drive of 50 yards in either of their last two games. That’s not a good sign against a team that consistently wins the field position battle.
Sometimes it’s all about the matchups. And, this is not a good matchup for Louisiana this week. Hopefully the defense can get enough stops to keep them in the game.
Because I don’t think the offense will have many opportunities.
The second part of getting to six is to win two out of three on the homestand…..not to win this week.
PREDICTION: FIU -17