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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 17, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Cajun Field (31,000) -- Lafayette, Louisiana. Television: None. Home Record: WKU 2-3, Louisiana 3-1. Away Record: WKU 4-1, Louisiana 2-3. Neutral Record: WKU 0-0, Louisiana 0-0. Conference Record: WKU 3-3, Louisiana 3-2. Series Record: Louisiana leads, 3-2.
GAME NOTES: After nearly pulling off an unbelievable upset at nationally- ranked Florida last week, the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns attempt to bounce back at home against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on Saturday as they return to Sun Belt Conference action.
After an impressive 5-1 start to the season, WKU has fallen off significantly in recent weeks by going 1-3 in its last four games to fall to 3-3 in conference play. The Hilltoppers are coming off two straight home losses to Middle Tennessee (34-29) and Florida Atlantic (37-28), but oddly enough they have played well on the road, with its only loss coming at then top-ranked Alabama on Sept. 8 (35-0).
Louisiana appeared to be well on its way to shocking the Gators in The Swamp as it held a 20-13 lead late in the fourth quarter, but it surrendered two touchdowns in the final two minutes, including a blocked punt return for a score, to lose by a final of 27-20. The Cajuns are now 5-4 on the year, but they've lost three-of-four since a 4-1 start.
The Cajuns lead the series with the Hilltoppers, 3-2, although the latter won last season's matchup, 42-23.
WKU boasts a balanced offensive attack (214.6 passing ypg, 175.3 rushing ypg), and the team scores an average of nearly 30 ppg. It has also been efficient on third down, converting 63-of-128 attempts.
The biggest reason for the Hilltoppers' success has been the play of running back Antonio Andrews, who leads the conference in rushing with 1,141 yards. He has been much more than just a great rusher however, as he has accounted for 385 receiving yards, 786 return yards, and 12 touchdowns in one of the most decorated campaigns in school history. Last week, his streak of consecutive 100-yard rushing games was snapped at seven, but he still contributed 340 all-purpose yards.
Kawaun Jakes has clearly been aided from having Andrews in the backfield, as he has completed 67.2 percent of his passes for 1,967 yards with 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He had his worst game of the season last week (14- of-26, 169 yards, two TDs, three INTs), but his efficiency rating (155.7) is still tops in the league.
Willie McNeal (34 receptions, 448 yards, six TDs) and Jack Doyle (41 receptions, 438 yards, three TDs) have shared the role as Jakes' top receiving target.
WKU has the top defensive unit in the conference, ranking first in points allowed (25.2 ppg) and yards allowed (323.2 ypg), although it has shown some vulnerability over the past two weeks in allowing a total of 71 points.
Quanterus Smith is one of the nation's best pass rushers with 12.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss, he has also recovered a fumble and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown. Andrew Jackson (97 tackles, 14.5 TFL) and Jonathan Dowling (five INTs) are also having all-conference type seasons.
As expected, the Louisiana offense was held in check by a stout Florida defense last week as it gained just 267 yards, but on the season it has typically had little problem racking up both yardage (416.8 ypg) and points (33.3 ppg).
Terrance Broadway has been stellar since taking over as the starting quarterback in late September, accounting for 1,795 passing yards, 328 rushing yards, and 17 total touchdowns to just six interceptions. He completed 16- of-23 passes for 171 yards and zero scores against Florida, but he kept his team in the game by playing turnover-free football.
Alonzo Harris (530 yards, five TDs) has played well as the team's primary back, and he scored its only offensive touchdown against the Gators.
Broadway spreads the wealth in the passing game, as four different players have at least 376 receiving yards. Harry Peoples leads the crew in both receptions (42) and touchdowns (four).
The Louisiana defense (28.1 ppg) allowed a late game-tying touchdown, but in all it was up to the task against the nation's seventh-ranked team, holding Florida to just 311 total yards.
Rodney Gillis (four INTs, fumble recovery) and Jermario Moten (three INTs, fumble recovery) have accounted for the majority of the Cajuns' 15 takeaways. Justin Anderson is the team-leader in tackles with 70.
It's hard to call Louisiana's effort last week a moral victory considering it was in great position to pull off the upset, but it clearly showed that it is a very dangerous team. The Cajuns have played well in Lafayette, and with WKU's recent slide, they should be able to topple the Hilltoppers.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana 31, Western Kentucky 28
11/14 10:44:31 ET
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