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South Alabama vs. Louisiana Odds, Picks: Betting Preview for Crucial Sun Belt Matchup

South Alabama vs. Louisiana Odds, Picks: Betting Preview for Crucial Sun Belt Matchup article feature image
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Chris McDill/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Louisiana linebacker Kris Moncrief.

  • South Alabama travels to Louisiana to take on the Ragin' Cajuns.
  • This is a crucial Sun Belt matchup after two entirely different months of September.
  • Dan Keegan previews the matchup and offers up his best bet for this college football Week 5 showdown.

South Alabama vs. Louisiana Odds

Saturday, Oct. 1
5 p.m. ET
ESPN+
South Alabama Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-8.5
-108
47.5
-112o / -108u
-360
Louisiana Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+8.5
-112
47.5
-112o / -108u
+280
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

These two Sun Belt West rivals could not feel more differently about their respective Septembers.

South Alabama is off to a hot start, blowing out fellow group of five squads Central Michigan and Louisiana Tech. The Jaguars only have a blemish on their record thanks to one of the most ill-advised trick plays of the season, a desperation fake field goal that went horribly wrong as they saw their big lead over UCLA slipping away.

Louisiana, which had dominated this division under Billy Napier, is off to a nightmare start in the Michael Desormeaux era. The Ragin’ Cajuns won their first two contests, then lost at Rice and to in-state rival Louisiana-Monroe. 

Both teams are stronger on the defensive side of the ball, ranking in the top half of FBS on defense. South Alabama has been competent on offense, but Louisiana is still searching for answers at quarterback.

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South Alabama Jaguars

Kane Wommack’s second year at the helm could not be off to a better start. 

South Alabama was a sleeper candidate in the Sun Belt West, thanks to Wommack’s defensive acumen, a really good secondary anchored by future NFL cornerback Darrell Luter Jr. and a steady hand at quarterback in Carter Bradley. 

But September was beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. The Jaguars opened with a win over FCS Nicholls, destroyed MAC favorites Central Michigan, went toe-to-toe with UCLA and then blew out Louisiana Tech. 

The win over Louisiana Tech was impressive. The Jaguars barely put up much offense, but that’s because it wasn’t necessary — they ran back a punt and an interception for scores and controlled the game from the opening kick.

The offense has been middle of the pack, which has been more than good enough considering the way the defense has played. By EPA metrics, the rushing game lags the passing attack, despite the impressive counting stats of workhouse running back La’Damian Webb (388 yards, 5.7 ypc, 5 touchdowns). 

Carter Bradley has been impressive running the offense — 1,007 yards and 10 touchdowns — although I’m sure he would like to clean up the four turnover-worthy plays.

This is not a downfield aerial attack as Bradley only sports a 7.2 ADOT. However, the team has already racked up 762 yards after the catch. Wideouts Caullin Lacy and Jalen Wayne have combined to replace now-Dallas Cowboy Jalen Tolbert. 

The defense is one of the better units in the group of five and completely shut down Louisiana Tech’s air raid.

The Jaguars’ defense is 41st in Beta_Rank, a strong mark for a group of five team, and they particularly excel in play efficiency against the rush. Part of this might be due to the big leads they’ve had in each contest, but the South Alabama defense ranks 13th overall in rush EPA/game allowed.

The secondary is no slouch, either. Luter Jr. is a star on the perimeter and slot man Yam Banks has been impressive in 2022. 

Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

A defense of South Alabama’s caliber is an unwelcome sight for a Ragin’ Cajuns’ offense that has struggled mightily since the departure of Billy Napier. Napier and his quarterback were stalwarts for an outfit that owned the Sun Belt West and the transition has been difficult.

Incumbent head coach Michael Desormeaux has been committed to a two-quarterback rotation, with Ben Wooldridge spelling starter Chandler Fields every third drive. The results have been mixed. 

Against ULM, Fields got off to a hot start and led the Ragin’ Cajuns on two touchdown drives to start the game. Wooldridge entered and immediately went three-and-out. The Cajuns lost their rhythm and never authored another scoring drive for the rest of the game (they did kick a field goal after a three and out on a short field after intercepting ULM). 

Desormeaux was open to the press this week about needing to balance his rotation by feel and “hot hand” more, rather than a strict every third drive rotation. 

The offensive line has struggled to open holes. Running back Chris Smith was supposed to be the next star tailback for the Cajuns, but he’s only logged 157 yards behind a line that ranks 95th in Line Yards.

The defense is still excellent in Lafayette. They rank 39th in Beta_Rank and much of that success is due to preventing explosive drives as they rank 19th in that metric in Beta_Rank. They are 39th in FBS in forcing negative drives — not only turnovers, but also three-and-outs. The stop unit was the hallmark of the Napier era and that side of the ball is still thriving.


South Alabama vs. Louisiana Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how South Alabama and Louisiana match up statistically:

South Alabama Offense vs. Louisiana Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 57 61
Line Yards 52 65
Pass Success 29 57
Pass Blocking** 74 93
Havoc 14 97
Finishing Drives 53 24
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Louisiana Offense vs. South Alabama Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 116 48
Line Yards 95 67
Pass Success 56 52
Pass Blocking** 80 67
Havoc 44 64
Finishing Drives 66 45
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 33 45
PFF Coverage 23 3
SP+ Special Teams 59 91
Seconds per Play 27.6 (89) 25.8 (45)
Rush Rate 52.9% (73) 48.6% (93)
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

South Alabama vs. Louisiana Betting Pick

This is a crucial matchup in the Sun Belt West standings, as Louisiana tries to defend its perch against the ascending Jaguars. 

Both teams will rely on good defense, especially in the back end. Life will be difficult for the passing games and both offenses are searching for more from their running games.

Neither team looks to push the pace and both will be careful to play ball-control offense in a close matchup.

I am a believer in the Jaguars and one of the people who was singing their praises in the preseason, but I believe this line is too large for a quality defense, with a winning pedigree playing at home. I will take Louisiana and the points.

Pick: Louisiana +9 (Play to +7.5)

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