After two weeks at home, Ohio heads to Cajun Field for its first road game of the season against Louisiana.
Both teams struggled with Football Championship Subdivision opponents in Week 2. The Bobcats (0-2) were upset 28-26 by Duquesne at home, while Louisiana escaped a fourth-quarter comeback by Nicholls with a 27-24 victory.
Louisiana isn’t Duquesne, however. It’s a perennial top contender in the Sun Belt Conference and has the offensive prowess to match. Ohio will have its work cut out for it when it faces Louisiana on Thursday.
Here’s what to know about the Ragin’ Cajuns headed into this week’s matchup:
All-time series: The Bobcats lead 2-1. The two programs last met Sept. 21, 2019, when the Bobcats fell to the Cajuns 45-25 at Peden Stadium.
Louisiana report: Fourth-year coach Billy Napier has the Cajuns out to a 1-1 start, with a loss at then No. 21 Texas and a win over Nicholls. Napier boasts a 29-12 record while coaching the Cajuns and has won the Sun Belt West Division in each of the past three seasons.
Napier’s staff has shifted since Ohio last faced Louisiana in 2019. Former offensive coordinator Rob Sale was hired as the New York Giants’ offensive line coach back in February. In his stead, tight ends coach Michael Desormeaux and wide receivers coach Tim Leger were promoted as co-offensive coordinators.
Louisiana can credit its offensive success in part to quarterback Levi Lewis. In the win over Nicholls, Lewis went 19-for-33 for 304 yards and two touchdowns. Louisiana is 23-7 when Lewis starts and 17-1 when he throws two or more touchdowns in a game.
Defensively, Louisiana allowed 170 rushing yards against Texas and didn’t fare much better against Nicholls last week. It has also only recorded one interception and has yet to recover a fumble.
How Ohio beats Louisiana: Ohio needs to shut down Lewis and keep Louisiana’s passing to a minimum. If Ohio does that, Louisiana will need to rely on running the ball, which hasn’t yielded much success. It’s rushed for just 166 yards through two games and averages 2.8 yards per attempt. That’s a far cry from the 5.5 yards per attempt it toted last season.
Ohio also needs consistent production from its offense. Louisiana has struggled to maintain a strong run defense this season, which is a blessing for a team with a deep running backs room like Ohio.
Stat to know: 5-0. The Cajuns haven’t lost a nonconference game at home since Napier took the wheel in 2018.
Player to watch: Levi Lewis, quarterback, No. 1
Lewis is the heart and soul of Louisiana’s offense. He leads the SBC and is 16th among Football Bowl Subdivision quarterbacks for most passing yards per game. He eclipsed 300 yards for the third time in his career against Nicholls and is set to make his 28th consecutive start Thursday against Ohio.