After the worst performance of the 2023 season, the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns will look to respond at home against a Sun Belt West division rival in 2-7 SOuthern Miss Thursday night at Cajun Field. Louisiana is currently a 10-point favorite in this game, even without their starting quarterback Zeon Chriss.
CAJUNS WITHOUT ZEON CHRISS
Last Saturday in Jonesboro, during the fourth quarter, Zeon Chriss dropped back to pass and got sacked. During the process, somebody rolled over his leg and Chriss didn’t get up at the end of the play. While on the field, the injury cart came out and Chriss’s leg was aircasted before taking him to the locker room for further examination. For the second time this season, the Cajuns have lost a starting quarterback and will now need to depend on Chandler Fields to run the offense for the final three games of the season.
Fields has plenty of experience, having been in the Cajuns program for several seasons now. He played in the Florida State game last season as well as moments in the series finale against Texas State and the Independence Bowl against Houston. However, this will be his first in-game reps with this year’s team so it will be interesting to see how he answers the call of leading the Cajuns through the rest of the 2023 season.
GOALS STILL WITHIN REACH
Last week, Louisiana fell to Arkansas State 37-17 to put the Cajuns at 5-4 and 2-3 in the Sun Belt. With the loss, the Cajuns are now out of the Sun Belt Conference Championship picture. However, Michael Desormeaux said earlier this week that a lot of their goals are still in reach.
“What we’ve talked about as a team is what we still have in front of us and what we get to do,” Desormeaux said. “We get to play for bowl eligibility at home against a team that we went to their place last year and they put it on us pretty good.”
“This week is big for us,” Desormeaux continued. “Playing for a bowl game is a huge deal. It’s not something that everybody gets to do, so we need to go take care of business.”
CAN CAJUNS FINALLY BEAT USM
Louisiana hasn’t gotten a victory over the Golden Eagles on a football field in 30 years, including five matchups since 2000. The closest was the 2016 New Orleans Bowl where the Ragin Cajuns fell to Nick Mullens and Southern Miss 28-21. Now that they are in the same division, this matchup will become a yearly occurrence, so it isn’t far-fetched to think that the Cajuns will break this streak at some point. However, the question remains: will it come on Thursday night inside Cajun Field at Our Lady of Lourdes Stadium?
SERIES RECORD: Southern Miss leads 40-11
2022: 24 Louisiana-Southern Miss 39
2016: 21 Louisiana-Southern Miss 28 (New Orleans Bowl)
2008: 21 Louisiana-Southern Miss 51
2003: 3 Louisiana-Southern Miss 48
2001: 10 Louisiana-Southern Miss 35
Zeon Chriss: 102-153, 1,222 yards, 11 TDs, 5 INTs (out with injury)
Jacob Kibodi: 93 carries, 611 yards, 6 TDs
Peter Leblanc: 23 receptions, 375 yards, 4 TDs
K.C. Ossai: 54 tackles (28 solo), 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles, 1 blocked kick
Kenneth Almendares: 10-for-11, Long of 46, 33-34 XP
Billy Wiles: 143-269, 1,746 yards, 9 TDs, 6 INTs
Frank Gore Jr: 163 carries, 812 yards, 7 TDs
Jakarius Caston: 27 receptions, 460 yards, 4 TDs
Dylan Lawrence: 58 tackles (29 solo), 1.0 TFL, 1 sacks
Andrew Stein: 16-of-21, Long of 52, 21-22 XP
Louisiana welcomes Southern Miss to Cajun Field Thursday night with a 6:30 p.m. kickoff. The game can be viewed on ESPNU.