Louisiana (1-2) at Boise State (2-1) (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Albertsons Stadium (36,387) -- Boise, Idaho. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: Louisiana 1-1, Boise State 1-0. Away Record: Louisiana 0-1, Boise State 1-0. Neutral Record: Louisiana 0-0, Boise State 0-1. Conference Record: Louisiana 0-0, Boise State 1-0. Series Record: First- ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: In their final non-conference tune up before beginning league action, the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns will try to tackle the blue turf at Albertsons Stadium on Saturday night when they face off against the Boise State Broncos.
Louisiana, tabbed as the preseason favorite in Sun Belt Conference, is off to a slow 1-2 start in its non-conference schedule. The Cajuns were able to down Southern University in their opener, 45-6, but since then have suffered back- to-back blowout losses versus Louisiana Tech (48-20) and at Ole Miss (56-15).
Boise State shares a common thread with Louisiana, having lost to Ole Miss in its opener (35-13), but since then it has rebounded nicely with two straight wins. The Broncos claimed a 37-24 win over Colorado State in their Mountain West Conference opener on Sept. 6, then followed that up with a solid road win over Connecticut last weekend, 38-21.
The Broncos are happy to return home, where they've won 17 straight against non-conference opponents.
This marks the first-ever meeting between these two football programs.
Thanks to an impressive offensive showing in its opener, Louisiana sits with solid scoring (26.7 ppg) and yardage (416.3 ypg) numbers this season, but the unit has stalled in the last two weeks by scoring 20 points or less each time out. It struggled mightily last week against Ole Miss by committing four turnovers.
Terrance Broadway, the Preseason Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year, has had a rough go of it under center during the season's first month, as he's completing just 58.1 percent of his passes for 516 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions. His stellar rushing ability (179 yards, TD) can only go so far in covering up for his costly turnovers.
Broadway is one of three major rushing contributors for the Cajuns. Elijah McGuire leads the team with 210 yards on 30 attempts (7.0 ypc), while Alonzo Harris has turned 41 carries into 183 yards and two touchdowns.
Broadway's top receiving target was Jamal Robinson (seven receptions, 141 yards, two TDs), but he's out indefinitely with a leg injury. Gabe Fuselier (eight receptions, 72 yards) and Jared Johnson (seven receptions, 68 yards, TD) will need to step up in his absence.
Louisiana's defense has not been up to the task during a difficult non- conference stretch, allowing 36.7 ppg and 455.3 ypg, while generating just one takeaway.
Trae Johnson has had plenty of opportunities to make plays and has taken advantage with a team-high 28 tackles. Dominique Tovell (3.0 TFL), Boris Anyama (2.0 TFL) and Justin Hamilton (2.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks) have all been disruptive in the backfield.
Boise State has improved its point total in each of its three contests, as its season averages have crept up to 29.3 ppg and 455.7 ypg.
The Broncos' offensive scheme revolves around one of the nation's busiest tailbacks. Jay Ajayi ranks third in the FBS in carries (71) and 16th in yards (344) and has scored a pair of touchdowns on the ground. Ajayi is also more than capable as a receiver, adding 18 receptions, 167 yards and two more scores.
Grant Hedrick has been successful under center, completing 72.6 percent of his passes (seventh-best in the country) for 849 yards and five touchdowns, but like Broadway, he has been plagued by reckless play with five interceptions.
Shane Williams-Rhodes is a trusted possession receiver with 24 receptions for 183 yards, while Matt Miller is an excellent deep threat with 309 yards and three touchdowns on just 16 catches (16.3 ypc).
The Broncos' defensive effort this season has been alright (26.7 ppg, 403.3 ypg), and the unit is coming off its best performance in allowing just 290 yards to UConn with Tanner Vallejo (31-yard fumble recovery) and Donte Deayon (50-yard interception return) both scoring touchdowns.
Vallejo is the team's top tackler with 18 stops, including four for a loss. Darian Thompson and Jeremy Ioane both have a pair of interceptions, and Beau Martin (4.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks), Kamalei Correa (3.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks) and Matt Boesen (3.0 sacks) are all integral pieces to a strong pass rush.
Louisiana is expected to turn things around once it begins its Sun Belt schedule, but it's going to be difficult for the Cajuns to fix their problems in another difficult road contest. Boise State has improved in every game, and the well-rounded squad should have no problem defending the blue turf in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Boise State 41, Louisiana 27Game Date and Time
Saturday, September 20, 10:30 p.m. (ET)