This weekend is a big one for Louisiana college football, as 8 of the 11 Division 1 teams are playing inside the Boot, including 3 match-ups of teams from the state.
Louisiana Tech had a short week after a beatdown of ULL last Saturday, traveling to fellow Conference USA member North Texas on Thursday night. The Mean Green weren't so mean as the Bulldogs scored 42 points, routing North Texas. Quarterback Cody Sokol went off, tossing an impressive 5 touchdowns.
Grambling State tries to right the ship with a road trip to the #13 Bethune-Cookman Wildcats. The Tigers defense is a work in progress, having given up more than 40 points in back-to-back contests. Bethune-Cookman is coming off a win over FBS foe Florida International, a match-up they were surprisingly the favorites in.
ULL heads out on the road for the first time with a visit to Oxford, Mississippi to take on the #14 Ole Miss Rebels. The Ragin Cajuns were upset by Louisiana Tech last week and will try to pull off their own upset, but it will be a tall order. ULL's passing defense ranks just 87th in the nation and will have to contain the country's 5th best passing attack. Cajuns quarterback Terrance Broadway was largely held in check by Tech, but he'll need a big game.
In one of the day's match-ups of teams from the Boot, the Southern Jaguars host the Northwestern State Demons. The Jags bounced back last Saturday by thrashing Central Methodist while the Demons were exorcised by Baylor to the tune of 70-6. Northwestern State won last year's game between the two schools 55-14. The Jags leading rusher Tyre Bracken had another gem last week, running for 125 yards with a touchdown on just 8 carries. The Demons quarterback Zach Adkins needs to perform like he did in the season opener where he threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns.
After receiving two beatdowns, Nicholls State returns to Thibodaux and John L. Guidry stadium to take on the Henderson State Reddies of Division 2. The Reddies are a top 10 Division 2 team and won their last game 72-7. The Colonels have struggled to get much going on either side of the ball but could rally at home against lower-division team.
In another Boot-on-Boot game, Southeastern heads to Yulman Stadium and the Tulane Green Wave. Southeastern stayed at #3 and even garnered a first-place vote in the FCS Coaches Poll after their second straight dominating win. Lions dual threat QB Bryan Bennett has the 6th most passing yards in FCS. The transfer from Oregon could give the Tulane defense fits, especially with his ability to make things happen in the run game.
Tulane hung with Georgia Tech for a half last weekend, but the Yellowjackets and their triple-option proved to be too much for the Green Wave. Tulane sits at 0-2 but has shown positive signs in both losses. They can't sleep on Southeastern, though. The Lions may be in a lower subdivision, but they're one of the best FCS teams out there.
McNeese almost pulled off a monumental upset last Saturday, nearly taking down #19 Nebraska on the road. It took a miracle play by Cornhuskers star running back Ameer Abdullah to bring down the Cowboys in the last minute of the game. McNeese remained #6 in the FCS Coaches Poll after their impressive performance. Saturday, they'll play the Prairie View A&M Panthers. The Cowboys had a solid day running the ball against Nebraska and could exploit a Panthers defense that gave up over 200 rushing yards last weekend.
The #10 LSU Tigers close out the night with the third match-up of teams from the Boot when they get a visit from the ULM Warhawks. The Warhawks are 2-0 after winning two squeakers, and senior QB Pete Thomas has kept the offense flying high, with two receivers who have over 150 yards. However, they'll be going up against a Tigers pass defense that is 9th in the country.
LSU's offense is also performing at a high level. Wide receiver Travin Dural continued to put up gaudy numbers last week, bringing his season total to 6 receptions for 291 yards and 4 touchdowns. In addition to weapons at wide receiver, the Tigers appear to have a two headed beast at tail back. Both Kenny Hilliard and Leonard Fournette have combined for 50 carries and 275 yards. Quarterbacks Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris have also added their fair share of rushing yards.
I decided to exact some revenge against the Falcons in Madden after the loss. I made a joking tweet about doing that, and it got some play, so I decided to actually do it.
"Well, that was a heart-breaker, Saints fans. The team lost the turnover battle, the defense gave up over 500 yards, and Atlanta came away with an overtime win," they said.
So what to do after a Falcons win? Exact some revenge on them in Madden 15. Rookie difficulty (the easiest). 6 minute quarters. Time to kick some butt.
The Saints got the ball first and jumped out to an early lead. Brees and the offense marched down, capping off the drive with a 1-yard Mark Ingram touchdown run. New Orleans leads 7-0.
Rob Ryan's defense shuts down the Atlanta offense, forcing an easy 3 and out. A punt and one play later, the Saints have opened the lead to 14-0 with Mark Ingram's 59 yard touchdown run. Take that, Dirty Birds. Then comes another failed Falcons drive, another punt, and another Saints touchdown (this time, to Jimmy Graham). 21-0. Man, Atlanta, are you even trying?
It quickly becomes evident that the Atlanta offense is competing with the Atlanta defense in a game of "Who's worse?" Their offensive line is leakier than the Titanic, giving up sack after sack (after sack after sack). Their defensive line couldn't apply enough pressure to knock over a dandelion.
Brees to Graham, Brees to Cooks, Brees to Cooks again. Touchdown, touchdown, touchdown. Saints lead 42-0 at the half.
The Saints struggle a bit in the 3rd quarter, failing to score. But the Falcons can't score either (they do manage to get their first 1st down, though).
The offense finds it footing again in the 4th, putting up another three touchdowns. Graham gets his third TD catch of the day, while Mark Ingram scores his 3rd and 4th touchdowns. The Falcons are as bad as the Saints are good. Nothing can stop the Black and Gold offense in this game.
The Saints show no mercy, scoring at will, even with under a minute left.
It is as lopsided of a beatdown as it can be. The Saints gain 485 yards of offense. 147 rushing yards and 338 passing yards. Drew Brees is 22-30 (73% completion percentage), averaging 11.2 yards per attempt and tossing 5 touchdowns with no interceptions. Matty Ice? Just 75 yards and no touchdowns, plus a fumble while being sacked.
Mark Ingram gashed the Falcons for 107 yards on 8 carries (13.3 yards per carry!) and 4 touchdowns. Khiry Robinson added another 40 yards on 3 carries (also 13.3 yards per carry). The Falcons managed a paltry 21 total rushing yards.
Add in the 7 sacks (yes, 7 sacks against Matt Ryan), and the Falcons only gained 59 total yards of offense. Just 4 first downs. C'mon, Atlanta. That's just embarrassing.
Okay, maybe this was just a video game. But boy, did it feel good to crush the Falcons. And don't worry, the Saints will beat them (for real) come December.
Another week, another weekend of Louisiana college football.
After a Week 1 bye, McNeese State opens their season against the #19 Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Cowboys are ranked #3 in the FCS Coaches Poll and have beaten an FBS team for two straight years, but they Cornhuskers will be a much tougher opponent. Nebraska crushed Florida Atlantic last week 55-7. McNeese's defense will have its hands full against an offense that racked up 784 yards last week.
The Nicholls State Colonels continue their road stretch against the Razorbacks of Arkansas. The Colonels struggled against Air Force last week, falling 44-16, and failing to generate much offense. Back-up quarterback Beaux Hebert did come into the game and go 6-6 for 64 yards and a touchdown.
Tulane football returns to campus and has their home opener against Georgia Tech in a battle of former SEC teams. The Green Wave will try to bounce back against the Yellowjackets after a double overtime loss to Tulsa last Thursday. Redshirt freshman QB Tanner Lee had an impressive debut despite tossing an interception in the second overtime period. Georgia Tech struggled against FCS foe Wofford last Saturday before pulling away for the win in the 4th quarter.
Southern returns to A. W. Mumford Stadium for their home opener against the Central Methodist Eagles, an NAIA team. The Jags received a beatdown from ULL last week but should be able to dole one out today. Southern has won five straight against FCS or lower division teams and should extend that streak to 6.
In a feline fight, the Grambling State Tigers play the Houston Cougars in game two of a four game road trip. Grambling hung with the Lamar Cardinals for a half but got blown out in the 3rd quarter. The Tigers will have to limit their number of turnovers after giving the ball away five times if they want to have a chance against Houston.
Louisiana-Monroe gets a visit from the Idaho Vandals this evening. The Warhawks won a thriller last weekend, upsetting ACC foe Wake Forest 17-10 and holding the Demon Deacons to 10 points and under 100 yards of offense. This will be the Vandal's first game, after their original season opener against Florida was canceled due to inclement weather. ULM Head Coach Todd Berry talked about the challenges of playing a team with no film on them.
Northwestern State heads west out to Waco, Texas to play the Baylor Bears. The Demons started out strong last Saturday but fell short after a couple costly turnovers and the defense gave up 20 points in the fourth quarter. The Northwestern defense will have one of their toughest tests of their season trying to stop a Baylor offense that is regularly one of the best in the nation.
The Lions of Southeastern host the Southern Utah Thunderbirds. Southeastern remained #3 in the country after obliterating Jacksonville last Saturday 44-3. Quarterback Bryan Bennett put on a show, throwing for over 300 yards and 2 touchdowns while adding another 93 yards and a score on the ground. Senior linebacker Isaiah Corbett's performance led the defense in shutting down a normally potent offense, and he was named Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Week.
For the second straight week, the Ragin Cajuns play another team from the Boot. Last week ULL crushed Southern. This week, they'll take on the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. Cajuns quarterback Terrance Broadway had a solid game against the Jags, scoring four total touchdowns. Tech, meanwhile, struggled against an elite Oklahoma team, scoring just 16 points, 13 of which came in garbage time. This marks the first meeting between the two teams since 2004. The Bulldogs have won 6 straight in the series, with ULL last winning in 1996. Tech running back Kenneth Dixon struggled last week but was one of the top backs last season. ULL Head Coach Mark Hudspeth knows Dixon can be a big threat.
The #12 LSU Fightin' Tigers return to Death Valley to take on the Sam Houston State Bearcats. LSU won a squeaker against Wisconsin last Saturday, struggling in the 1st half; but they got going in the 2nd, pulling away for the 28-24 win. The Bearkats aren't on the same level as the Badgers, but Sam Houston State is 13th in the FCS and has been an annual playoff contender in the Southland Conference. The Bearkats run a fast, up-tempo offense. In two games, they've run 190 plays in two games. LSU ran 68 last week. The Tigers have shut down hurry-up offenses in the past, but the Bearkats aren't the usual FCS cupcake and Coach Les Miles knows it.
Galette still had two years left on his contract, and this extension would keep him in the Black and Gold through 2019.
At first glance, it may seem a bit pricy for a player who's only had one season as a starter; but Galette is worth it, in my opinion.
The Saints signed him as an undrafted free agent (hmm, sounds like a familiar refrain for Saints players) in 2010 out of Stillman College. He saw plenty of playing time as a back-up in 2011 and 2012, notching 39 total tackles and 9.5 sacks.
Then Rob Ryan came along, and Galette really broke out. Originally a defensive end, Galette transitioned to outside linebacker; and he flourished, recording 40 total tackles and an impressive 12 sacks. The tandem of Galette and Cam Jordan (12.5 sacks) gave the Saints their first season with a pair of players with double-digit sacks since 2004 (Charles Grant and Darren Howard).
Now, detractors will correctly point out that Galette has only played at this elite level for a single season; but it was his first season as a starter and his first under Rob Ryan. He's just 26. I'm certainly optimistic that he'll continue playing like he did in 2013.
The Saints had the fourth-most sacks in the NFL last year, and Galette accounted for 25% of them. He's locked-up long term now. Be happy, Who Dats. The Falcons, Panthers, and Bucs definitely aren't.