The Cajuns are Ragin’.
And not just in Lafayette, Louisiana, either.
Across the state of Louisiana, FBS programs at-large are living … well, large.
The aforementioned Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns, for example, have a 7-2 record in the Sun Belt Conference heading into a game at South Alabama on Saturday. Louisiana walloped Texas Southern 77-6, handily defeated Ohio 45-25 and beat Sun Belt powerhouse Georgia Southern 37-24.
Of course, the best football team in Louisiana is LSU. The unbeaten Tigers (9-0) are No. 1 in the Top 25 polls and in the College Football Playoff rankings. After beating Alabama in Tuscaloosa last week, LSU plays at Ole Miss at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Then there’s Tulane University in New Orleans. The American Athletic Conference member has a 6-3 record with wins over FIU (42-14), Houston (38-31), Army (42-33) and Tulsa (38-26). The Green Wave plays at Temple at noon Saturday.
But the second-best football team in the state of Louisiana? That would be the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in Ruston. After losing to Texas 45-14 in the season opener, LA Tech has reeled off eight consecutive victories.
That’s the resume Louisiana Tech (8-1, 5-0 Conference USA) brings into a make-or-break matchup against Marshall (6-3, 4-1) at 7 p.m. Friday in Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
A win by Marshall would keep the Thundering Herd in charge of its destiny because Florida Atlantic (7-3, 5-1) lost to MU. But a loss to LA Tech would drop the Herd to 4-2 in the Conference USA standings and elevate FAU to first place in the East Division.
That’s how important this game is.
Besides all that, this will be LA Tech’s first regular-season appearance in “The Joan” despite joining Conference USA in 2013.
Interesting schedule, huh?
Anyway, the Bulldogs have a prolific offense. It averages an eyebrow-raising 38.1 points, which ranks them No. 13 in the country. Its total offense of 479.1 yards per game ranks No. 17 and its passing offense of 292.1 yards per game ranks No. 23.
It’s the Bulldogs’ prolific offense that has everyone talking. Quarterback J’Mar Smith, a 6-foot-1, 218-pound senior, has completed 198 of 304 passes (.651) for 2,483 yards with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Next, there’s rugged running back Justin Henderson, who has rushed for 712 yards and a stunning 14 touchdowns on 109 carries (6.5 yards per attempt).
Then, there’s a five-headed receiving corps featuring five players with 20 or more catches. By comparison, MU has only two players with 20 or more receptions and they are both tight ends.
“They are balanced,” said MU linebacker Tyler Brown. “They have playmakers at every position. The quarterback is like a fifth-year senior. He’s very efficient. Although he’s not really labeled as a runner, when he gets out he makes plays with his feet.
“The running backs are three-backs deep and they are all solid. And their receivers ... they have some of the best receivers in the conference. They are good all around.
“We have to get off the field on third down. Especially this week with an offense that has a quarterback that does make plays with his feet and keeps plays alive. We’ve got to make sure we get off the field on third down.”
That’s the case anytime an opponent hails from Louisiana. So, here’s the trick that Marshall has to pull off on Friday.
The Herd has to take the ragin’ out of the Bulldogs.