Of course, another way to add a little excitement to the final regular season Sun Belt game is have a little wagering action on the 8 PM (ET) boot at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. ESPN3 will stream the action, and the Jaguars are 3 point favorites after the line opened at USA -1.5. Part of the reason for the jump in the spread is a key injury on the ULL side, something we'll touch on later.
SBR's live college football odds has a 58 point total for the tilt, down a point from the opening scoreboard hurdle.
The Sun Belt Conference only has two guaranteed bowl games, and both have already been locked up by Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas State. Having already clinched at least a share of the conference crown, the Ragin' Cajuns will be going to the New Orleans Bowl, their third consecutive appearance in that contest. Meanwhile, the Red Wolves accepted an invitation on Monday to play in the GoDaddy Bowl. That leaves three other Sun Belt squads -- four if South Alabama can beat ULL -- on the outside looking in as far as postseason play goes, and it's doubtful more than one of them will even sniff an at-large invite.
Cajuns Out For Third Straight 9-Win Season
There's no argument when it comes to the outstanding job Mark Hudspeth has done since arriving in Lafayette before the 2010 season. The Cajuns (8-3 straight up, 4-7 against the spread) won nine games in each of his first two seasons on the job, and a win Saturday would put the program in line for possibly its first-ever 10-win campaign. That success could put Hudspeth's name on short lists for head coach vacancies this offseason.
A strong ground attack and competent passing game have been the trademarks of Louisiana's offense this year. Alonzo Harris and Elijah McGuire are each past the 800-yard rushing mark, accounting for 20 rushing touchdowns between them. Terrance Broadway has been at quarterback for the nation's 41st-ranked offense, throwing for nearly 2,300 yards and 19 TD's.
Broadway will not be under center for this game, however, after Hudspeth confirmed that he suffered a broken right arm in the final quarter of last week's upset loss to Louisiana-Monroe. The junior signal caller threw three interceptions in that loss, and will be replaced by redshirt freshman Brooks Haack. This is Haack's first career start, and he was 10-of-14 with a TD subbing for Broadway this past Saturday.
The Ragin Cajuns are also listing linebacker Darius Barksdale as questionable for South Alabama.The junior has missed the last two games with a hand injury and was sixth on the team in tackles before having to sit out.
Jags Look To Avoid Losing Season
Joey Jones and his staff have also done a fine job in what is only the second year for South Alabama at the FBS level. The Jaguars have followed up a 2-11 showing in 2012 with a 5-6 record (7-4 ATS), and will certainly be playing for that sixth win to avoid a losing mark.
Dual-threat QB Ross Metheny has been a big part of the quick growth by the Mobile crew, throwing for more than 2,400 yards and second on the team in rushing with 558 yards. The senior has an underrated downfield target in Shavarez Smith who is averaging more than 19 yards per catch.
There's a good chance for wet weather in and around Mobile on Saturday according to the latest forecast. A 50% chance of rain during the day slacks off just a bit for the evening time when temps should be in the mid-to-upper 50s at kickoff. Don't put your bet down before confirming that forecast.
The Jaguars are coming off consecutive wins and covers as favorites, and with ULL not having much to play for plus being minus its QB, taking South Alabama is tempting. But I'm going to play the low side of the total for my free college football pick.
My picks: ULL-USA Under 58
Season: 26-13 (+11.7); 7 picks pending