Louisiana 36 … at FIU 31

Posted Sep 24, 2011

Week 4 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Louisiana at FIU

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 4 - Louisiana at FIU

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Sept. 24 Louisiana 36 … at FIU 31
CFN Analysis: This was the moment when Louisiana finally took the step forward it needed to. The offense that struggled so much over the first three games got a brilliant performance out of Blaine Gautier, who threw for 221 yards and three scores and ran for 86 yards, and several players contributed to the offensive production against a great Florida International defense. This Ragin' Cajun defense kept T.Y. Hilton under wraps, allowing just three catches for 32 yards, and held firm late to pull off the program changing win. Now the Sun Belt is there for the taking with three straight home games. Beat Troy in two weeks, win the league title. It might be that simple.

Just when it seemed like everything was rolling, the defense came up with a puzzling clunker at home. A banged up T.Y. Hilton couldn't explode like he needed to, but Kedrick Rhodes picked up the slack with 157 yards and three scores on the ground, but it wasn't enough to overcome the production from the balanced ULL offense. Beating Duke next week would be nice to get the confidence back, and thumping Akron on the road should be a given, but it all comes down to beating Arkansas State and Troy over the next two Sun Belt games to get back in the conference title chase.

(AP) MIAMI -- Blaine Gautier threw three touchdown passes to help Louisiana-Lafayette upset Florida International 36-31 on Saturday night.

Jake Medlock threw an interception to Lionel Stokes on the final play of the game as the Panthers (3-1, 1-1 Sun Belt) attempted to come back. Medlock had replaced starter Wesley Carroll, who hurt his ankle in the first quarter.

Gautier's 307 yards of total offense came on 14 of 26 passing for 221 yards and 86 yards rushing on 15 carries. His passing kept the lead safe for the Ragin' Cajuns (3-1, 1-1), after they took an 8-7 lead early in the second quarter.

Gautier hit Javone Lawson for a 46-yard touchdown for a 36-24 lead with 12:40 left in the game. He found Darryl Surgent for a 22-yard score, and hit Ladarius Green for a 41-yard touchdown on 4th-and-1, giving the Ragin' Cajuns a 15-7 lead with :50 before halftime.

Alonzo Harris scored on a 13-yard run for Louisiana-Lafayette, which snapped a two-game losing streak to FIU and had 419 yards of total offense. Brett Baer hit field goals of 48 and 39 yards for the Ragin' Cajuns.

Kedrick Rhodes led FIU with 30 carries for 157 yards and three touchdowns and scored on runs of 43, 11, and 2 yards. Rhodes' third touchdown with 6:51 left in the game pulled the Panthers five points behind the Ragin' Cajuns.

Medlock went 17-of-27 for 216 yards for the Panthers and ran 10 times for 39 yards and a touchdown.

FIU finished the game with 414 yards of total offense. The Panthers' T.Y. Hilton, who got hurt in last week's victory against UCF, had just 3 catches for 32 yards.

Louisiana-Lafayette (2-1) at Florida International (3-0) Sept. 24, 6:00, ESPN3

Here's The Deal … ULL travels to Miami to take on FIU in a huge Sun Belt Conference clash this Saturday night. The Cajuns enter with a 2-1 record after defeating FCS opponent Nicholls State last week, and the Golden Panthers sport an undefeated record of 3-0 after upsetting in-state foe UCF. New head coach of the Cajuns, Mark Hudspeth, has done a great job at getting his team prepared even with a new system to learn. The Cajuns will be looking to make a statement in this game that they are not a team to be taken lightly.

On the other side, FIU is on a roll to start this season, and it has become a popular pick recently to run the table as the Panthers have already played and won their toughest games. This game could very easily decide the conference champion as these two programs have gotten off to the best starts in the Sun Belt this season. Whoever wins this game will be the early front-runner in the chase for conference superiority.

Why Louisiana-Lafayette Might Win: This will be a major road test for the Ragin Cajuns, and they will need the defense to rise to the challenge. After 3 games, the Cajun defense has already accumulated 12 sacks to go along with 28 tackles for loss. They are the underdogs in this game, but if the defense can stuff the woeful Panthers offense that is ranked 101st in the nation, then they can keep the contest low-scoring and have a chance to win at the end behind the superb leg of Brett Baer who has yet to miss a kick this season.

Why Florida International Might Win: After possibly the biggest home win in school history last week against UCF, the Golden Panthers get to trot back out on the turf in front of what is sure to be a renewed and invigorated fan base. As good as ULL's defense has been, FIU's has been better. The Panthers have racked up 15 sacks already on the season, good enough for 2nd in the nation. The Cajuns rank 114th in total offense, and they have yet to find any semblance of a passing game, so the FIU defense should be able to keep the ball around the line of scrimmage and stop ULL from doing much of anything.

What To Watch Out For: FIU QB Wesley Carroll. The Mississippi State transfer has been very efficient so far this season. Through three games he has not thrown a single interception, and he has done a nice job of managing the game for the Panthers. The ULL defense has feasted on quarterbacks this year, taking four interceptions back for touchdowns in their first three games. If Carroll can avoid the Cajun secondary and limit the offense's mistakes then FIU should be able to control this game.

What Will Happen: ULL has had a nice start to the Hudspeth era, and if this game was at home they would have a very good chance to win. But, FIU is on fire, and the fans are already dreaming of a 12-0 season. It should be rocking in Miami, and this will be a hard fought defensive battle that the Panthers will put away in the fourth quarter for the crucial conference victory.

CFN Prediction: Florida International 37 … Louisiana-Lafayette 17  
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: FIU -17  O/U: 51.5

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