Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns football: Game-by-game predictions for 2021

Tim Buckley
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns are ranked 23rd nationally entering Billy Napier’s fourth season.

UL, which finished 10-1 last season, opened 2020 with an upset of nationally ranked Iowa State and hopes to start 2021 in similar fashion at No. 19 Texas.

Sept. 4: at Texas

Last meeting: Texas won, 60-3, on Sept. 3, 2005, in Austin.

The buzz: With new coach Steve Sarkisian and a quarterback battle between Hudson Card and Casey Thompson, the Cajuns at least catch the Longhorns at a good time.

The pick: Texas 28, UL 21

Sept. 11: Nicholls

Last meeting: UL won, 70-7, on Sept. 14, 2013, at Cajun Field.

The buzz: Former UL assistant coach Tim Rebowe went 7-2 and made the FCS playoffs each season from 2017-19, then went 4-3 in a condensed 2021 spring season. The Colonels have quite a quarterback in LSU transfer Lindsey Scott Jr., but he faces a tall task.

The pick: UL 42, Nicholls 21

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Nicholls coach Tim Rebowe talks with his team after a scrimmage held on Aug. 14.

Sept. 16: Ohio

Last meeting: Ohio won, 38-31, on Oct. 30, 2010, in Athens.

The buzz: The Bobcats, 2-1 in their COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, have a new coach (former offensive coordinator Tim Albin) and an uncertain quarterback situation. But running back De’Montre Tuggle is a good one.

The pick: UL 28, Ohio 20

Sept. 25: at Georgia Southern*

Last meeting: UL won, 20-18, Sept. 26 at Cajun Field.

The buzz: The Cajuns catch the Eagles early enough to take advantage of an unsettled quarterback situation after longtime starter Shai Werts transferred to Louisville, especially with Justin Tomlin ineligible for the season’s first two games.

The pick: UL 24, Georgia Southern 21

Offensive lineman Carlos Rubio (65) and the Ragin Cajuns celebrate their 2020 win over Georgia Southern at Cajun Field.

Oct. 2: at South Alabama*

Last meeting: UL won, 38-10, Nov. 14 at Cajun Field.

The buzz: The Jaguars have a new coach in former defensive coordinator Kane Wommack, a new quarterback in South Carolina transfer Jake Bentley and a terrific target in 1,000-yard receiver Jalen Tolbert.

The pick: UL 35, South Alabama 10

Oct. 12: Appalachian State*

Last meeting: UL won, 24-21, Dec. 4 in Boone.

The buzz: The Mountaineers beat the Cajuns in the 2018 and 2019 Sun Belt championship games, but UL broke its eight-game losing streak against Appalachian State last season. With longtime quarterback Zac Thomas gone, UL must figure out how to handle former Duke QB/Clemson backup Chase Brice.   

The pick: UL 20, Appalachian State 17

Oct. 21: at Arkansas State*

Last meeting: UL won, 27-20,  Nov. 7 at Cajun Field.

The buzz: Quarterback Logan Bonner followed coach Blake Anderson to Utah State, leaving Arkansas State’s other top QB, Layne Hatcher, to battle Florida State transfer James Blackman as former Tennessee coach Butch Jones tries to build on Anderson’s winning ways.

The pick: UL 28, Arkansas State 21

Oct. 30: Texas State*

Last meeting: UL won, 44-34, Oct. 31 in San Marcos.

The buzz: Quarterback Brady McBride is back, but the Memphis transfer spent much of the preseason fending off Tyler Vitt and NC State transfer Ty Evans as coach Jake Spavital searches for answers.

The pick: UL 45, Texas State 14

Nov. 4: Georgia State*

Last meeting: UL won in overtime, 34-31, Sept. 19 in Atlanta.

The buzz: The Panthers are loaded with returning offensive starters, including quarterback Cornelius Brown IV and running back Destin Coates, as they pursue their fourth bowl trip in five seasons.

The pick: UL 31, Georgia State 27

Nov. 13: at Troy*

Last meeting: UL won, 53-3, Nov. 23, 2019, at Cajun Field.

The buzz: With Missouri transfer Taylor Powell beating out 2020 starter Gunnar Watson, Troy starts with a new quarterback. The Trojans have one of the Sun Belt’s best on defense, middle linebacker Carlton Martial.  

The pick: UL 24, Troy 10

Nov. 20: at Liberty

Last meeting: N/A

The buzz: The independent Flames are loaded with returnees from Hugh Freeze’s productive offense, including pro-prospect quarterback Malik Willis, an Auburn transfer.

The pick: UL 31, Liberty 30 

Terry Bowden has taken over as coach at UL Monroe, which faces UL on Nov. 27.

Nov. 27: UL Monroe*

Last meeting: UL won, 70-20, Nov. 28 in Monroe.

The buzz: New coach Terry Bowden hired former West Virginia, Michigan and Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez as offensive coordinator, and Rodriguez brought along his son, Rhett Rodriguez, a graduate transfer quarterback from Arizona. 

The pick: UL 49, ULM 21

Final record: 11-1, 8-0 Sun Belt