NCAA Wednesday Night Football: Coastal Carolina/Louisiana-Lafayette Preview

by Big Al Staff

The only Wednesday night college football game of the month takes place tonight with Coastal Carolina visiting Louisiana-Lafayette in a battle of unbeaten teams from the Sun Belt Conference. ESPN has the broadcast starting at 7:30 PM ET.

Coastal Carolina did not play last week after upsetting Arkansas State at home by a 52-23 score as a 3.5-point underdog. The Chanticleers got an outstanding performance from redshirt freshman quarterback Grayson McCall who completed 20 of 29 passes for 322 yards with four touchdown passes and just one interception. The dual-threat quarterback added another 44 rushing yards on 17 carries. McCall is completing 66.7% of his passes this season while averaging 11.6 yards-per-attempt for 728 passing yards. He has thrown 11 touchdown passes with only that one interception against the Red Wolves. McCall has been sacked just once behind a veteran offensive line featuring three seniors and four returning starters. He has also rushed for 139 yards with another two touchdowns.

Coastal Carolina opened their season by upsetting Kansas on the road for the second straight time by a 38-23 score after pulling off that feat last year as well in Lawrence. The Chanticleers followed that up with a 43-21 victory over Campbell. Third-year head coach Jamey Chadwell returned 13 starters from the team last year that finished 5-7. It appears very likely that Chadwell’s team this season will shatter the record of five victories as an FBS program they set last year. Coastal Carolina is scoring 44.3 points per game while holding their opponents to 22.2 points per game.

Louisiana returns to the field for the first time since their 20-18 victory at home over Georgia Southern as an 11.5-point favorite on September 26th. The Ragin’ Cajuns opened their season with a big upset victory at Iowa State by a 31-14 score as a 13-point underdog before following that up the next week with a 34-31 win at Georgia State.

Third-year head coach Billy Napier has high expectations for his team that returned 14 starters from the 11-3 squad last year that defeated Miami-Ohio in the Lending Tree Bowl by a 22-17 score. Louisiana’s chief target is Appalachian State that has beaten them four times in the last two seasons, including in both Sun Belt Conference championship games. This showdown was supposed to be the Wednesday night game on ESPN last week before the Mountaineers had an outbreak of COVID-19 within the football program. That game will tentatively take place in December.

The Ragin’ Cajuns are led by senior quarterback Levi Lewis who is a two-year starter with the program. Supported by one of the best offensive lines from a non-power five program, Louisiana is averaging 5.1 yards-per-carry. They are scoring 28.3 points per game while allowing 21.0 points per game. The front seven is a concern as they have only registered three quarterback sacks while allowing their opponents to average 191 rushing yards per game. Despite the 3-0 start, this program has been hit hard with injuries along with a handful of COVID cases. Having last played 18 days ago, this could be the closest Napier has had a team at full strength all season.

Coastal Carolina sees this contest as a benchmark game, as they lost at home to Louisiana by a 48-7 score in their meeting last season on November 7th. Lewis passed for 296 yards in that game with three touchdowns while leading an offense that averaged 7.73 yards-per-play.

But the Ragin' Cajuns view this game as a unique opportunity themselves to flex their muscles with the spotlight of this nationally-televised midweek game. Louisiana wants to be considered the best non-power five team in the nation. With Napier having served as the offensive coordinator for Dabo Swinney at Clemson before coaching the wide receivers at Alabama under Nick Saban from 2013-17, he is one of the hottest young head coaches in the nation. Speculation was that he turned down a power-five head coaching job in the offseason to return to the Ragin’ Cajuns for this season. 

BetOnline lists Louisiana as a 7.5-point favorite with the total set at 58.5.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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