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UL running back Trey Ragas (9) shakes hands with offensive lineman O'Cyrus Torrence (58) after one of his three touchdowns at Texas State.

INSIDE THE GAME

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

With a win, the Cajuns can secure a third consecutive trip to the Sun Belt Conference championship game, as well as improve to 7-2 against South Alabama, including 5-0 vs. the Jaguars at Cajun Field and 11-0 vs. Sun Belt West teams under Billy Napier.

KEY MATCHUP

UL defensive front vs. USA offensive line: The Jaguars’ offensive line allowed 23 sacks this season, and South Alabama is rushing for only 119 yards per game. It’ll be important for UL’s defensive front to continue those trends.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

CAJUNS: Linebackers Lorenzo McCaskill and Ferrod Gardner are UL’s two leading tacklers with 61 and 52 stops. Gardner is coming off a 13-tackle performance against Arkansas State.

USA: Running back Carlos Davis has rushed for 586 yards on 134 carries and two touchdowns. Last season against the Cajuns, Davis ran for 122 yards on 10 carries and one TD.

FACTS & FIGURES

UL leads the series 6-2. … The Cajuns have scored 20 or more points in 15 straight games and are 13-2 in those games. … UL’s defense ranks No. 34 nationally in scoring defense (23.9 points per game). … UL’s defense is one of 13 teams in country with at least two interceptions in three games this season. … Trey Ragas needs 73 yards rushing to pass Alonzo Harris into No. 4 on school’s all-time rushing list. … UL safety Bralen Trahan is one of 16 players nationally with at least seven pass breakups. … The Cajuns’ offense hasn’t possessed the ball as much as the opposition with an average of 28:01 per game compared to 31:59 for South Alabama. … The team that’s won the past five meetings has rushed for at least 200 yards — UL rushed for 255 yards in last year’s 37-27 road win, while the Jaguars rushed for 351. … The past six games in the series has been decided by 10 points or less. … South Alabama's Kawaan Baker became the school’s all-time leading receiver last week with 1,698 career yards. … The Jaguars are minus-2 in turnover margin this season, while UL is plus-4.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

19 – The Cajuns are 19-0 over the past decade when they intercept at least two passes in a game.

23 – Number of sacks USA’s allowed this season, compared to seven for the Cajuns.

44 – The Cajuns’ 6-1 record is the program’s best start since 1976 when they began the season 8-0.

FOUR DOWNS

1 – Third down

UL’s offense is converting on 38% of its third-down tries this season and improving on that could be tough with USA only allowing 33%.

2 – Return yardage

One of the biggest pregame edges UL owns is return yardage. The Cajuns have 563 yards on kickoffs and 115 on punts, while USA has 201 on kickoffs and 40 on punts.

3 – Fourth quarter

UL’s most productive quarter this season has been the fourth with 65 points, while it’s been South Alabama’s least productive with only 29 points.

4 – The yellow flags

In one of the few times this season, the Cajuns will play a team less penalized. UL has been flagged 40 times for 427 yards, while USA has been penalized 32 times for 289 yards.

SCHEDULES

SOUTH ALABAMA (3-4, 2-2)

Sept. 3 At Southern Miss, W 32-21

Sept. 12 Tulane, L 27-24

Sept. 24 UAB, L 42-10

Oct. 17 Texas State, W 30-20

Oct. 24 ULM, W 38-14

Oct. 29 At Georgia Southern, L 24-17

Nov. 7 At Coastal Carolina, L 23-6

Nov. 14 at UL, 1 p.m.

Nov. 21 Georgia State, 3 p.m.

Nov. 28 At Arkansas State, TBA

Dec. 12 Troy, TBA

UL (6-1, 4-1)

Sept. 12 At Iowa State, W 31-14

Sept. 19 At Georgia State, W 34-31 (OT)

Sept. 26 Georgia Southern, W 20-18

Oct. 14 Coastal Carolina, L 30-27

Oct. 23 At UAB, W 24-20

Oct. 31 At Texas State, W 44-34

Nov. 7 Arkansas State, W 27-20

Nov. 14 South Alabama, 1 p.m.

Nov. 21 Central Arkansas, TBA

Nov. 28 At ULM, 4 p.m.

Dec. 4, At Appalachian State, 6 p.m.

THE ADVOCATE SAYS …

UL 23, South Alabama 13

The winning team has scored at least 30 points five times in the eight meetings, but the strength of both teams has been the defense. Just when it looked like UL’s offense might be breaking out, it didn’t score in the first half against Arkansas State. The Jaguars have struggled to run the ball this season and not many teams make hay against UL’s secondary. This one might not be real fun for the Cajuns faithful to endure either, but the carrot at the end should be enough to push UL to a seventh victory.


Email Kevin Foote at kfoote@theadvocate.com.