CSJ Sun Belt Championship Game Preview — Louisiana at Appalachian State, How To Watch and Fearless Predictions
December 6, 2019
Louisiana at Appalachian State When: Saturday, December 7, 12:00 PM EST Where:Kidd Brewer Stadium, Boone, N.C. TV/Streaming: ESPN / WatchESPN
Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (9-2, 7-1 SBC)
Sun Belt West Division Champions Location: Lafayette, La. Enrollment: 19,188 Head Coach: Billy Napier, 2nd Season (Career Record: 17-9)
Season Recap:With its 31-30 win over ULM, Louisiana clinched its first 10-win season in program history. It was also the team’s seventh Sun Belt victory of the year, the most conference wins a single season.
The Ragin’ Cajuns are led by junior QB Levi Lewis, who has completed 200-of-306 passes for 2,450 yards and 20 TDs. He has thrown 11 touchdown passes over the past five games, including three last week against Louisiana-Monroe.
Louisiana has officially won the Sun Belt just once, in 2005, when it closed out the regular season with five straight wins and shared the title with Arkansas State and ULM. It also captured the crown in 2013, an honor that was vacated due to NCAA violations.
For the second year in a row, Louisiana and Appalachian State will meet in Boone, N.C. to decide the Sun Belt Championship. App State won the game 30-19 last year.
Best Win: at Georgia Southern (37-24)
Worst Loss: vs. Appalachian State (17-7)
Other key outcomes: vs. Mississippi State( 38-28 L)
Key Players: RBs Elijah Mitchell, Raymond Calais and Trey Ragas have been the key to the Ragin’ Cajun offense. Ragas led the team in rushing last year but has been slowed a bit by injury in 2019. Mitchell paces the team with 1,007 yards, with Calais (818) and Ragas (777) closely behind. To win this game, the Louisiana running game will have to be key not only to moving the ball but also controlling the clock. A Ragin’ Cajun win will also happen if this team controls the turnover battle.
Appalachian State Mountaineers (9-2, 7-1 SBC)
Sun Belt East Division Champions Location: Boone, N.C. Enrollment: 19,108
Season Recap: The Mountaineers (10-1 overall) won the conference’s East Division. The Mountaineers have an outside chance still to get the best G5 spot should they win this game and have Cincinnati beat Memphis in the AAC title game and Hawai’i defeat Boise State in the MWC title game.
In the first meeting between these two teams, Appalachian State held Louisiana to just 254 yards and seven points in the 17-7 win. The Mountaineers allowed only 123 rushing yards and did not allow a run longer than 22 yards. App State has never lost to Louisiana in seven meetings.
The Mountaineers have accumulated 2,712 rushing yards and 2,533 through the air. After leading the Sun Belt in scoring last season, new head coach Eli Drinkwitz has maintained this program’s place atop the stat sheet once again.
Best Win: at North Carolina (34-31)
Worst Loss: vs. Georgia Southern (24-21)
Other key outcomes: at South Carolina (20-15 W)
Key Player: QB Zac Thomas was the leader of this team last year and this year has upped his game again. He has completed 63.8 percent of his throws for 2,427 yards and 24 touchdowns to six picks thus far. In the junior’s last game, he threw for 326 yards and four scores at Troy and tossed four touchdowns in a win over Georgia State on Nov. 16. Thomas’s has the ability to make plays or escape the pocket (387 rushing yards) with his legs. He will need to continue this kind of effort against a strong Louisiana defense that has 27 sacks this year.
Fearless Prediction: The Mountaineers have lost only one home game over the last two years but that came this year against Georgia Southern. This game is likely to come down to whichever team can run the ball better and which can stop the run on defense. This game will likely be close to the end but the home field and a top G5 spot on the line mean that the Mountaineers come out on top. Appalachian State 31, Louisiana 24
Originally from LaMoure, North Dakota, Kent is a 1996 graduate of North Dakota State University. His prior writing experience is over 15 years having previously worked with D2football.com, I-AA.org, and College Sporting News before coming to College Sports Journal in 2016. His main focus is college football in the western half of the United States– the Big Sky Conference and Missouri Valley Football Conference within the Division I FCS. And in 2017, he began also to look at the FBS Group of Five conferences of the American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, and Sun Belt.
Originally from LaMoure, North Dakota, Kent is a 1996 graduate of North Dakota State University. His prior writing experience is over 15 years having previously worked with D2football.com, I-AA.org, and College Sporting News before coming to College Sports Journal in 2016. His main focus is college football in the western half of the United States-- the Big Sky Conference and Missouri Valley Football Conference within the Division I FCS. And in 2017, he began also to look at the FBS Group of Five conferences of the American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, and Sun Belt.