Friday College Football Betting Odds & Picks for Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Appalachian State
Mary Holt/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Zac Thomas.
- The Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns will hit the road to Boone, N.C. on Friday night to take on the Appalachian State Mountaineers under the lights.
- Both teams have put together impressive seasons, so this marks one of the better Sun Belt games of the year.
- Check out Darin Gardner's full betting analysis and betting pick with updated odds below.
Louisiana vs. Appalachian State Odds
|Louisiana Odds||+2.5 [BET NOW]|
|Appalachian State Odds||-2.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+120 / -148 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||50.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Friday, 8:30 p.m. ET|
Relative to preseason expectations, it’s surprising that Appalachian State and Louisiana will not be playing each other in the Sun Belt Championship game.
On Sept. 1, Appalachian State was -175 to win the Sun Belt Conference, and Louisiana was comfortably second at +230. No other team in the conference was below +1000. In the Sun Belt preseason coaches’ poll, Appalachian State received nine out of the 10 votes to win its division, while Louisiana picked up seven of the 10.
Louisiana comes into this game at 8-1, including a road win over Iowa State. The Ragin’ Cajuns’ only loss came against Coastal Carolina, which they will see again in the Sun Belt Championship. Appalachian State, however, is sitting on two losses after dropping games to Marshall and Coastal Carolina.
Even though Appalachian State will not be playing in the Sun Belt Championship because it’s in the same division as Coastal Carolina, this is still an intriguing matchup. These are still two of the best teams in the Group of Five. The Mountaineers have had Louisiana’s number in recent years, winning all five matchups between the two since 2017. Will they be able to keep it up on Friday, or can Louisiana finally snap the streak?
Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns
There were high expectations for the Louisiana offense after 2019, and the Regin’ Cajuns have mostly met those expectations. They are coming off their best offensive performance of the season by far after putting up 70 points against rival Louisiana-Monroe last week. After nine games, Louisiana ranks 29th in Expected Points Added (EPA) per play and 25th in Success Rate. One area in which Louisiana would like to improve is putting points on the board in opponent territory. Louisiana ranks only 49th in Finishing Drives.
Louisiana’s offensive line has been dominant this season, even after losing two players from the 2019 unit who are currently on NFL rosters. The unit still ranks seventh in Sack Rate Allowed and 10th in Line Yards
Louisiana’s three-headed monster in the backfield is quarterback Levi Lewis along with running backs Trey Ragas and Elijah Mitchell. Lewis is one of the best quarterbacks in the conference and ranks 11th in Pro Football Focus grade among all group-of-five quarterbacks. Looking at the running backs, Ragas ranks ninth nationally in EPA per play at the position, while Mitchell ranks 30th.
Louisiana’s defense has been nothing special this year, but it’s been serviceable. It has done a great job defending explosive plays but allows opponents to move the chains pretty frequently. The Cajuns rank 20th in points per play allowed but 71st in Success Rate Allowed and 83rd in First Down Rate Allowed. Just like the offense, Louisiana will want to improve in Finishing Drives on this side of the ball. The defense currently ranks 99th in the nation in that department.
Something that has been a problem for Louisiana over the past two years is the front four. Louisiana’s defensive front ranks 108th in Line Yards, 116th in Stuff Rate, 118th in Power Success Rate, and 92nd in Sack Rate. The struggles up front have Louisiana sitting at 89th in Rushing Success Rate Allowed, which could be a big problem against a very efficient Appalachian State rushing attack.
Appalachian State Mountaineers
Despite losing head coach Eli Drinkwitz to Missouri in the offseason, the Mountaineer offense has continued its efficiency in 2020. It’s led by veteran quarterback Zac Thomas, who ranks 33rd among all quarterbacks in EPA per play. Appalachian State is a very balanced offense that can beat teams in a lot of different ways.
The Mountaineers rank in the top 25 in both Rushing Success Rate (16th) and Passing Success Rate (25th). They also rank 18th in available yards gained, 20th in EPA per play, and 31st in Finishing Drives. Appalachian State won’t hit defenses with a ton of explosive plays, but it can methodically move the ball down the field and put points on the board. The offensive line should have no trouble with this weak Louisiana front, as it ranks 18th in Line Yards.
Even though Appalachian State fields a very good offense, the defense might be even better. Outside of allowing 34 points to Coastal Carolina, the Mountaineers have not allowed more than 17 points to any other Sun Belt offense.
Appalachian State currently ranks in the top 20 in EPA per play allowed, Success Rate Allowed, points per drive allowed, and Touchdown Rate Allowed. It also ranks in the top 10 in Havoc rate while sitting second in Passing Success Rate Allowed. Additionally, the secondary features PFF’s fifth-highest graded cornerback in the country in Shemar Jean-Charles. Louisiana has been efficient on offense this year, but the Appalachian State defense should be a big step up from Louisiana’s previous opponents.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Just from a numbers perspective, I have this one at App State -2.7. However, I think the Mountaineers match up really well with Louisiana. Their highly efficient running game should be able to exploit a weak Louisiana rush defense, and I don’t see the Mountaineers having a significant weakness that the Cajuns can exploit.
Louisiana’s biggest strength on defense is preventing explosive plays, but that is not how Appalachian State beats its opponents. Most of the areas where Louisiana struggles on defense are where App State thrives on offense. I would be more hesitant to take the Mountaineers at -3, but I like them to get the win here.
Pick: Appalachian State -2.5