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Junior College Football
Cajuns Playing For Share of Title
Fox Sports Contributors
Posted Nov 10, 2011
Louisiana realized its first team goal of the season -- going undefeated at home for the first time since 1987 -- by scoring 12 unanswered points in the final three minutes for a thrilling 36-35 win last week over Louisiana-Monroe. The Cajuns will now face the Arkansas State RedWolves in Jonesboro, Ark. Saturday.
Now it's on to the program's next goal: Winning a Sun Belt Conference championship. The Ragin' Cajuns (8-2, 6-1 Sun Belt) can clinch at least a share of the conference title on Saturday when they travel to play league leader
(7-2, 5-0) in Jonesboro, Ark.
"This is a very big game," said first-year Cajuns coach
. "We're really excited to have a chance to play for a conference championship in our first year (here). It's the next game, but we're not hiding the fact we have something on the line here. We're excited about that, and that makes it that much more fun."
This college football season already has been plenty of fun in Lafayette.
The Cajuns, who have won three straight against ASU, are one of 14 teams nationally to already reach the eight-win mark this season, something they hadn't done since 1993. They're the 11th team in the 11-year history of the Sun Belt to win at least eight games. And they would join
's 2010 squad as the only other 10-win team in league history by closing the regular season with wins over ASU and
Hudspeth is also the first coach in program history to win eight games. The Cajuns expect to receive their first bowl invitation in 41 years sometime in the next few weeks.
To become outright conference champs, the Cajuns need some help. They'd need to beat ASU and hope the Red Wolves lose to Middle Tennessee (Nov. 19) and/or
(Dec. 3) and have
(5-4, 5-1) fall to
(Nov. 19) and/or Troy (Nov. 26).
The Cajuns have never won an outright Sun Belt championship but shared the 2005 league title with Arkansas State and
. The New Orleans Bowl was moved to Cajun Field that season in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but Arkansas State won the tiebreaker to play in the game and lost to
Whether it's an outright or shared conference title, senior fullback
"a ring is a ring. That's what we're playing for."
"If you love to compete this is a great week. It (this game) will be a great test against a very good football team."
--The Sun Belt Conference recognized LB
as its Defensive and Special Teams Players of the Week, respectively. Lewis-Buchanan had a career-high 12 tackles, including 11 solos and three for loss, vs. ULM. Baer made a 41-yard field goal, was 3-for-3 on extra points and had a successful onside kick that set up the go-ahead touchdown.
--The Cajuns have scored at least 30 points eight times this year. That's the most times they've ever reached that mark in a single season. They scored at least 30 points seven times in 1995.
set the Cajun Field record for most receptions by a Cajuns receiver with 13 for 136 yards -- both career-highs -- and two touchdowns. Green also set the Sun Belt Conference record for catches by a tight end in a single game.
passed for 355 yards and four TDs last week and rushed for 59 yards. He has thrown the fewest interceptions (two) by an FBS player with at least 200 pass attempts this season. His Sun Belt-best 17 TD passes are the fourth-most in school history behind Roy Henry (18 in 1976) and Jake Delhomme (20 in 1995 and '96).
UL leads Arkansas State 21-17-1 (last meeting, 31-24 UL).
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE:
Gautier leads the Sun Belt's top scoring offense at 33 points per game. RB
(572 rushing yards on 130 carries) is tied for fourth in the league with six rushing TDs but had only 10 yards on six rushes last week. WR
is third in the conference with 712 receiving yards, and WR
is fourth with 47 catches. ASU is first in the league in total defense (324.7 yards per game).
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE:
The Cajuns are middle of the pack this year in the Sun Belt in most defensive categories but are tied for first with 12 interceptions and takeaways (20). They have six interceptions returned for scores, the most in the country. LB
is second in the league with 86 tackles, third with nine passes defended. DE
is second with 11.5 tackles for loss. ASU is first in the Sun Belt in total offense (446.6 yards per game).
QUOTE TO NOTE:
"I'm very excited for our football team to accomplish their first team goal, and that is to protect our home."
-- Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth after last week's 36-35 comeback win over Louisiana-Monroe to finish 5-0 at home this season.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK"S GAME:
Louisiana at Arkansas State, Nov. 12 -- Both teams are bowl eligible but are playing this week for the Sun Belt Conference championship. The Cajuns can win at least a share of the league title with a win over the conference-leading Red Wolves. The Cajuns have won three straight in the series.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Apply pressure to ASU QB Ryan Aplin. The junior is 12th nationally in total offense (313.1 yards per game) and has accounted for 18 touchdowns but has thrown the fifth-most interceptions (11) in the country this season. The Cajuns have a playmaking defense that leads the nation with six interceptions returned for TDs. Offensively, the Cajuns must win the turnover battle to win on the road.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
QB Blaine Gautier
-- A junior, the first-year starter has emerged as perhaps the best QB in the league this season. He had four TD passes last week against ULM. Gautier is ninth nationally in pass efficiency (159.27 rating) and leads the Sun Belt with 17 TD passes.
LB Devon Lewis-Buchanan
-- Last week the senior had a career-high 12 tackles (11 solos and three for loss) against ULM. On the season he is second on the team in tackles (59) and tackles for loss (8.5).
TE Ladarius Green
-- The senior posted his third multi-touchdown game in the past four weeks with two TD catches against ULM. He has 35 receptions for 372 yards and seven scores this year after being slowed early by a nagging shoulder injury.
--QB Blaine Gautier (knee) briefly left last week's 36-35 win over ULM before returning. The junior was a little sore but practiced Sunday and will be fine to play this week, according to coach Mark Hudspeth.
(concussion) had one carry for no gain last week in his return from a one-game absence. Hudspeth said the freshman would be more involved this week.
--LB Jacob Molbert (knee) returned to the starting lineup after missing a week due to injury. The freshman recorded nine tackles against ULM.
--TE Ladarius Green (shoulder) is as close to 100 percent as he's been all year since getting hurt in a Week 1 loss to Oklahoma State.
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Nov 10, 2011
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Nov 9, 2011
Big game on tap for Red Wolves
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