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UL running back Chris Smith (21) led the Cajuns with 99 yards rushing in last year's win over South Alabama.

INSIDE THE GAME

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

The Cajuns are hoping to move to 13-0 vs. Sun Belt West teams under Billy Napier and claim their sixth straight road win over Sun Belt foes and sixth straight over the Jaguars in the series. A win would be South Alabama’s first 4-0 start since 2010.

KEY MATCHUP

UL running game vs. USA defensive line: The Jaguars defense has only allowed 55 yards rushing per game this season, while the Cajuns continue to try to get their ground game on track. They've had fewer than 130 yards rushing in three of their first four games.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Cajuns: UL safety Percy Butler has 19 tackles, 2.5 stops behind the line and an interception so far this season.

Jaguars: Junior WR Jalen Tolbert has 14 receptions for 317 yards so far this season.

FACTS & FIGURES

The Cajuns lead the all-time series 7-2, including 2-2 in Mobile. … UL is 15-4 since 2018 in night games. … UL is now 12-3 when Levi Lewis throws for at least 200 yards. … UL owns an 11-3 record in one-possession games since the start of 2018. … UL is 31-5 when the Cajuns score more than 20 points. … Lewis needs 224 passing yards to move into second place all-time ahead of Terrance Broadway’s 7,556 yards. … Lewis has now thrown a TD pass in 22 straight games. ... UL is now 18-1 when Lewis throws two or more TD passes. … The Cajuns are 6-0 when Lorenzo McCaskill gets at least 10 tackles. … UL is averaging 423 total yards per game and giving up 412. South Alabama is averaging 355 total yards and giving up 290.7. … Defensively, the Jaguars rank No. 4 nationally in rushing defense, 12th in sacks, 25th in total defense, 19th in scoring defense and No. 1 in both third-down defense and red-zone defense. … South Alabama’s offense has registered nine plays of 20 or more yards this season, while giving up 10 in that range. … South Alabama’s defense has only allowed three TDs in nine opponent trips into the red zone. … Both teams have recorded 11 QB sacks this season. … The Jaguars have already won two games when trailing at halftime this season, matching the total of the past three seasons.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

3 – Number of touchdown passes Levi Lewis needs to catch Jake Delhomme’s school record of 64 touchdown tosses.

4 – Number of touchdowns allowed by South Alabama’s defense in three games, compared to 13 for UL in four games.

0 – Number of games UL has lost to Sun Belt West teams under Billy Napier.

FOUR DOWNS

1 – WRs haven’t scratched

No South Alabama wide receiver has caught a touchdown pass this season. The Jaguars' only two scoring receptions are by a running back and a tight end.

2 – Defensive consistency

Through three games, 10 of USA’s 11 starters on defense has started all three games with cornerback Davyn Flenord missing a start in week one. UL’s only had the same starters in four spots.

3 – Conversion story

Neither offense is good converting (UL 18-53; USA 14-42), but defensively the Jaguars led the nation (8-42) and Cajuns are allowing 49% (28-57). UL is 6-of-8 on fourth down, however.

4 – Not flag happy

The Cajuns have only been flagged 22 times for 182 yards in four games, while the Jags have kept their flags to 13 for 140 yards in three games.

SCHEDULES

SOUTH ALABAMA (3-0, 0-0)

Sept. 4 Southern Mississippi, W 31-7

Sept. 11 At Bowling Green, W 22-19

Sept. 18 Alcorn State, W 28-21

Oct. 2 Louisiana, 7 p.m.

Oct. 9 At Texas State, 6 p.m.

Oct. 14 Georgia Southern, 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 23 At ULM, 6 p.m.

Oct. 30 Arkansas State, TBA

Nov. 6 At Troy, 2:30 p.m.

Nov. 13 At Appalachian State, 1:30 p.m.

Nov. 20 At Tennessee, TBA

Nov. 26 Coastal Carolina, TBA

UL (3-1, 1-0)

Sept. 4 At Texas, L 38-18

Sept. 11 Nicholls, W 27-24

Sept. 16 Ohio, W 49-14

Sept. 25 At Georgia Southern, W 28-20

Oct. 2 At South Alabama, 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 Appalachian State, 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 21 At Arkansas State, 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 30 Texas State, TBA

Nov. 4 Georgia State, 6:30 p.m.

Nov. 13 At Troy, TBA

Nov. 20 At Liberty, TBA

Nov. 27 ULM, TBA

THE ADVOCATE SAYS …

UL 20, South Alabama 13

This one may not be a pretty game to watch. The winning team has scored 30 or more points in six of the nine games in this series, but that doesn’t look as likely in this matchup. Both defenses appear ahead of the offenses. South Alabama is only allowing 55 rushing yards a game and the Jaguars’ offense is middle of the pack in most categories despite a 3-0 start. Running quarterbacks have hurt UL’s defense this season, but Jake Bentley is more of a pocket guy. Turnovers and special teams should loom large in this one.


Email Kevin Foote at kfoote@theadvocate.com.