Louisiana-Lafayette at UAB Betting Odds & Pick: Blazers Home Winning Streak in Jeopardy (Friday, Oct. 23)
Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Louisiana running back Elijah Mitchell.
- Things could get interesting Friday when Louisiana hosts UAB in a battle of talented programs.
- There has been a major line shift in this game, with UAB going from the favorite to road underdog.
- Mike Calabrese breaks it all down and tells us why he thinks the Ragin' Cajuns are the top play.
Louisiana-Lafayette at UAB Odds
|Louisiana-Lafayette Odds||-2.5 [ADD TO APP]|
|UAB Odds||+2.5 [ADD TO APP]|
|Moneyline||-137/+110 [ADD TO APP]|
|Over/Under||50 [ADD TO APP]|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|TV||CBS Sports Network|
At the risk of stating the obvious, the Ragin’ Cajuns and Blazers are two of the best Group of Five programs you’ll see play this season.
Dating back to the start of the 2019 season, Louisiana-Lafayette is 14-4 straight up (SU), while UAB checks in at 13-6 SU. The Blazers do it with defense, evidenced by the fact that they rank top-five nationally in a handful of meaningful metrics (third-down conversion rate, opponent points per play, defensive Havoc, to name a few).
The Ragin’ Cajuns get it done on the ground, balancing efficiency and explosiveness. Elijah Mitchell and Trey Ragas were impossible to take down with a single defender last year, and they’re back to their old tricks this season.
The backfield tandem has combined for 469 yards on the ground, along with seven touchdowns through four games. And it doesn’t hurt that Ragas can move the pile like this:
Both teams’ only losses this season came against an opponent currently sitting in the AP Top 25, so why are sharps gravitating towards Louisiana? The answer lies in the trenches.
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Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns
Louisiana’s bread and butter is its bruising rushing attack. The Cajuns are rushing for 185 yards per game on the ground at a 5.75-yards per carry clip. That high average is fueled by their explosive running plays.
The Cajuns rank 16th in rushes of 20 or more yards, 11th in rushes of 30 or more yards, and sixth in rushes of 40 or more yards. They’re doing all of this with zero lost fumbles. “Explosive,” “efficient” and “error-free” makes for quite the triple-threat. This running game should feast against a UAB front that was gouged for 337 rushing yards against Miami in early September.
Defensively, Louisiana is the picture-perfect definition of bend, but don’t break. It ranks second-to-last in the country in defensive Havoc, which means that it doesn’t force many negative plays; such as tackles for loss, forced fumbles and interceptions.
The Cajuns rely upon their unwillingness to surrender the big play. Through four games, they’ve allowed just four plays of 30 or more yards, which is the third best per-game allowance in the country. This means that opponents must string together plays and convert third downs in order to beat them.
UAB is right in the middle of the pack when it comes to third-down conversions. So, if you remove the Blazers’ 45-point, 459-yard outburst against an FCS school in their opener, it’s hard to picture them hitting a handful of big plays in this one.
The Blazers opened as three-point favorites against the Cajuns. However, that opening spread that has more to do with Bill Clark’s against the spread (ATS) performance as a favorite (21-11-1, 65.6%) than anything else. Clark’s ATS win percentage is the second-highest in the country since 2014.
What negates Clark’s mastery against the number has been Billy Napier’s work as an underdog. The former Saban assistant is 8-4 as an underdog with four outright upsets, including a win over Iowa State to start this season.
This year’s UAB team may be carrying the banner for a 21-game home winning streak at Legion Field, but its offense isn’t up to recent standards. Freshman Bryson Lucero has completed just 56.9% of his passes, which means that Louisiana can stack the box on early downs.
Once it’s clear the Blazers need to put the ball in the air, they’ll be facing off against a savvy Louisiana secondary that has allowed a passer rating of 120.9 (14th in FBS). If UAB falls behind and has to abandon the run, I foresee a potential runaway situation for the Cajuns.
Betting Analysis & Pick
The Blazers’ defensive prowess is hard to argue against, but its competition has been downright lousy; save for the Hurricanes, who beat them soundly.
The UAB schedule has featured teams rated 105th, 113th, 136th, and 166th (FCS) by the Sagarin Ratings. By comparison, Louisiana’s slate has featured the 35th, 55th, 79th, and 119th ranked teams. You usually see competition imbalances like these in college basketball non-conference games.
To see such a stark difference in competition, paired with Louisiana’s win at Iowa State, I’m going to be on the Cajuns here despite the major line movement.
After opening at UAB -3, the current number is ULL -2.5 and we could see more money on the Ragin’ Cajuns pour in, pushing that number to -3. I would play this up to Louisiana -4 in this spot.
Pick: Louisiana-Lafayette -2.5. (Play up to -4).