As a horrible season by anyone’s standards winds its way to the finish Georgia Southern finds itself in the role of spoiler once again as it faces Louisiana at 3 p.m. Saturday in Lafayette, La., in a Sun Belt Conference game.
The Eagles (1-9, 1-5) are coming off their first win of the season, a 52-0 rout of South Alabama which ended the Jaguars’ dreams of becoming bowl eligible. It also ended Coach Joey Jones’ nine-year run at USA as he resigned this week.
Louisiana (5-5, 4-2) needs a win over Georgia Southern in order to earn a bowl bid for the sixth time in seven seasons under Coach Mark Hudspeth.
The Ragin’ Cajuns are coming off a 47-34 win over New Mexico State and will be playing their final home game of the season. A loss to the Eagles would be crushing as Louisiana ends its season at Appalachian State next week in a game where it will be a decided underdog.
While Hudspeth, now the dean of SBC coaches following Jones’ resignation, is wary of the Eagles he said his team is playing its best football of the season.
“Georgia Southern looks like a team that has found itself,” Hudspeth said. “They’re playing good football. They’ve been highly competitive in a lot of games, especially their conference games.
“They led New Mexico State in the third quarter, were really close with Arkansas State, were close with Appalachian State and Troy,” Hudspeth said. “They’ve played three of the top teams in the conference…they’ve had a tough conference schedule.
“This game will definitely be a challenge for our guys. I’m just glad we’re playing them at home because we haven’t been at home much this year.”
Despite the threat the suddenly rejuvenated Eagles pose Hudspeth likes the way his team is playing, especially quarterback Jordan Davis and freshman running back Trey Ragas.
Last week in the win over New Mexico State the Cajuns had 505 yards total offense with Davis accounting for 290 yards, 219 through the air with two touchdown passes. Ragas ran for a season high 132 yards and two scores.
“We’ve won four of our last six games,” Hudspeth said. “Jordan was very solid against New Mexico State. I thought he threw the ball well, and ran the ball very effectively.
“Trey is second in the conference in scoring and first in the conference in touchdowns. He had a big game. Overall, we ran the ball effectively, and that was a key to our success.”
For the season Ragas has 795 yards rushing in an offense that will throw a balanced attack at the Eagles. Louisiana is averaging 189.3 yards per game rushing with 25 touchdowns, and 214.1 yards passing with 13 touchdowns. Davis is 98-174 for 1056 yards and seven touchdowns.
While Ragas leads a solid rushing attack Davis and backup quarterback Andre Nunes (61-99, 783 yards, four touchdowns) have four receivers with 31 or more catches headed by Ryheem Malone with 36 for 510 yards, and Keenan Barnes with 36 for 507 yards.
Malone had seven receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown against New Mexico State.