Coastal Carolina Football: Can Chanticleers shock Louisiana in Sun Belt battle?

Sep 12, 2020; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Coastal Carolina Chanticleers running back CJ Marable (1) runs past Kansas Jayhawks linebacker Dru Prox (40) during the first half at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 12, 2020; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Coastal Carolina Chanticleers running back CJ Marable (1) runs past Kansas Jayhawks linebacker Dru Prox (40) during the first half at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

Wednesday night sees a Sun Belt showdown as two unbeaten teams go to battle in the Bayou. Can Coastal Carolina football surprise No. 21 Louisiana?

Coastal Carolina football travel to Louisiana on Wednesday night to take on the Ragin’ Cajuns, with both programs in unfamiliar territory. The Chanticleers have never started the season 3-0 in their short FBS history and it’s been 36 years since Louisiana has been unbeaten through the opening three games.

Whilst the Ragin’ Cajuns have received national recognition for their winning start to the season –  they were as high as 19th in the AP Poll and currently sit 21st — the Chanticleers have quietly been one of the most consistent, and consistently entertaining teams so far in this crazy, disrupted, anything can happen, 2020 college football season.

Coastal Carolina football opened up their season with a Power Five scalp, winning 38-23 as a six-point underdog in Kansas. They went on to put 43 up on Campbell before beating Arkansas State 52-23 last time out top open their Sun Belt schedule in style.

The Chanticleers have seen an offensive explosion with freshman quarterback Grayson McCall powering the Coastal Carolina football offense to an FBS fourth best 44 points per game. His ability as a dual threat quarterback have led to a balanced offense, with nine passing touchdowns and nine rushing touchdowns for the unit.

Meanwhile on the defensive side of the ball, the Chanticleers have tightened up a unit that ranked 85th out of 130 FBS teams in 2019. The Coastal Carolina football defense is allowing just 22 points per game compared to over 30 in 2019.

They face their biggest threat to date when facing the Ragin’ Cajuns on Wednesday night. They face highly-regarded quarterback Levi Lewis and a Louisiana offense that features a pair of running back weapons in Trey Ragas and Elijah Mitchell.

The Ragin’ Cajuns have their own Power Five scalp after beating Iowa State to open the season, followed by two tight wins over Georgia State and Georgia Southern.

They go into Wednesday night’s Sun Belt Showdown as a seven point favorite and with ESPN’s Football Power Index giving Louisiana a 70.7 percent chance of victory. Recent history is against the Chanticleers, too, with Louisiana winning 48-7 in last season’s meeting courtesy of three touchdowns from Lewis.

Can Coastal Carolina football spring a surprise in the Sun Belt showdown?

Date: Wednesday, Oct. 14
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Lafayette, La.
Venue: Cajun Field
Live Stream: WatchESPN

Keys to Victory

As I alluded to in the introduction, the Coastal Carolina offensive explosion has been a lot to do with quarterback McCall. The freshman has not only been accurate — 66.7 percent completion rate — but he’s taken care of the ball, avoiding costly turnovers on his way to a 9-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

He has been ably assisted by an impressive pair of pass catchers in Javon Heiligh, who leads the team in receiving yards (219) and receptions (12), and tight end Isiah Likely who has an outstanding 30.7 yards per catch for his 215 yards and three touchdowns.

As impressive as McCall and the passing offense, their key to victory will lay in the ground game.

The Louisiana defense has allowed just a 53.3 completion percentage to opposition quarterbacks whilst limiting opposition offenses to less than one passing touchdown per game so far in 2020. They’ve allowed on average just 198 passing yards but are giving up 191 yards on the ground.

Coastal Carolina football can attack that rushing defense with McCall’s dual threat skillset, but they have an additional weapon in the backfield.

Running back C.J. Marable rushed for over 1,000 yards last season and already has three touchdowns to his name in 2020. The 5-foot-10, 200-pound senior back is an explosive presence in the backfield and you can expect him to add to his season total of 190 rushing yards on Wednesday night.

After giving up 296 passing yards and three touchdowns to Lewis last season, the key to a Coastal Carolina victory will be how they shut down the Ragin’ Cajuns’ quarterback.

Although the Chanticleers’ defense is greatly improved, they’ve given up 225 passing yards on average compared to just 139 rushing yards. The Coastal Carolina rush defense should hold up against Ragas and Mitchell so the question will be how they deal with Lewis and the passing offense.

If the Chanticleers can get pressure on Lewis, they can force him into mistakes. The Louisiana signal-caller has just a 57.8 percent completion rate in 2020, and has thrown three interceptions to just four touchdowns. He had just four interceptions in the whole of 2019.

Senior defensive tackle C.J. Brewer and defensive end Tarron Jackson have combined for 8.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks so far this season and will help negate the Louisiana rushing attack and put pressure on Lewis. If they can force some errant throws, defensive back Derrick Bush leads a secondary that has four interceptions this season. Bush leads the team in pass break ups.

In Louisiana’s season opening win against Iowa State, the Ragin’ Cajuns scored two special teams touchdowns with Chris Smith and Eric Carror returning a kickoff and punt for touchdowns. It will be important for Coastal Carolina football to be wary in all phases of the game if the Chanticleers want to pull of an upset to open Week 7 of the 2020 college football season.


The Sun Belt showdown has the makings of one of the most intriguing contests this week. Coastal Carolina football has been one of the early season surprises and Louisiana are leading the way for the conference by receiving national recognition in the AP Poll.

Although the Ragin’ Cajuns blew the Chanticleers away last season, I expect a closer matchup this time around, like it was when the two teams met for the first time back in 2018. Coastal Carolina football edged the game 30-28 in a tight game and this matchup has the makings of a similarly close fought encounter.

Despite being the underdog on Wednesday night, I think Coastal Carolina football has too much explosive firepower on offense and they will emerge from battle in the Bayou undefeated and force their way into the AP Top 25 at the expense of the Ragin’ Cajuns.

Final Score: Coastal Carolina 31, Louisiana 27

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