The Boot Report - A look at college football around Louisiana
Jordan Fiegel Reporting
LSU is in Oxford, Grambling is in trouble, ULL is in the win column, Tulane and ULM are in the bye week, Northwestern and Southeastern are in the same game, Nicholls is in the midst of a turnaround, Southern is in need of a better offensive performance, and LA Tech is looking to turn things around. Here's a look at college football across Louisiana.
ULL got things started for the Boot with some Tuesday night football, defeating Western Kentucky 37-20. The Hilltoppers outgained the Ragin' Cajuns by more than 100 yards and had only 90 yards of passing; but 4 turnovers, including a 99 yard interception returned for a touchdown, propelled the Cajuns to victory.
Tulane has a bye, and Coach Curtis Johnson gave his players the whole week off after a thrilling triple overtime win over East Carolina. After ECU failed to score in the third overtime period, Coach Curtis Johnson sent kicker Cairo Santos out on the first play to boot the game winning field goal. The Green Wave now sits at 5-2 with a perfect 3-0 in Conference USA play.
Louisiana-Monroe also has off this week. The Warhawks snapped a three game losing streak with a 21 to 14 victory over Texas State last week. Running back Centarius Donald scored the go-ahead touchdown with 18 seconds left. ULM pulled off the win despite Texas State racking up almost double the total yards. Coach Todd Berry is focused on getting his team healthy and refocused.
What a year it's been for Grambling. Doug Williams was fired just two weeks into the season, and interim Head Coach George Ragsdale has been reassigned after a player mutiny this week. Grambling players walked out of a team meeting on Tuesday and boycotted practice on Wednesday and Thursday. The Tigers are 0-7 on the year and have now lost 17 in a row. Grambling was supposed to kick off the action for the Boot on Saturday with a trip to Jackson State. They did not have enough players to field a team, though, so the game was canceled.
In contrast to Grambling, Nicholls State is on the upswing. After winning just two games combined in the past two seasons, the Colonels sit at 4-2. Nicholls is riding a 3 game winning streak, their longest since 2007. Saturday afternoon, the Colonels hope to fell the Lumberjacks of Stephen F Austin, who are just 2-4 on the year.
The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs host the North Texas Mean Green. The Bulldogs should be well rested after their bye week, while North Texas is coming off a beat down of Middle Tennessee. Tech has had a rocky start thus far, going just 2-4, but they could get it going just in time for the meat of their conference schedule.
Southern is fresh off an exciting win over Alabama A&M to improve to 3 and 1 in the SWAC. Saturday afternoon, the Jags pay a visit to the winless Arkansas Pine Bluff Golden Lions. Southern's star quarterback Dray Joseph will need to bounce back against the Lions 17th ranked pass defense after tossing 4 interceptions last Saturday.
In Saturday's only match-up of teams from the Boot, the Demons of Northwestern State host the Lions of Southeastern at 6 o'clock. Northwestern lost to fellow Louisiana school Nicholls last week while Southeastern had a dominating win over Stephen F. Austin. Southeastern is an impressive 4 and 2 largely due to an offense that ranks 16th in the nation. Northwestern is 3-3 overall and 0-1 in conference play but would jump right back into the Southland Conference race with a win.
The 6th ranked LSU Tigers travel to Oxford to take on the Ole Miss Rebels in the Magnolia Bowl at 6pm. LSU has rebounded nicely after the close loss to Georgia by dominating Mississippi State and Florida. LSU's pass rush seems to be getting into swing, recording 7 sacks in the past two games after notching just 7 in the previous five games. After what started at as a promising season, the Rebels have now dropped three straight, with close losses in back-to-back games. However, Ole Miss still fields a strong offense, and QB Bo Wallace with his big wide receivers Laquon Treadwell and Donte Montcrief could test an LSU secondary that has been picked on before. This is a game with a lot of tradition. The Tigers have played the Rebels 96 times, the second most of any team LSU has faced, and the Tigers sport a 56-36-4 record against Ole Miss.