By Josh Orozco
Assistant Sports Director
Texas State returns to Jim Wacker Field for the first time in 49 days with a date scheduled against a formidable conference foe on Halloween night.
The Bobcats are on the hunt to knock off the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns for the first time in program history. Here are three things to watch for during a special Sun Belt Halloween showdown between Texas State and Louisiana.
First Down Fate
Louisiana sits 4-1 prior to week nine of the college football season, but the Ragin’ Cajuns have struggled to create more opportunities for a first down. Louisiana ranks last in the Sun Belt in total first downs achieved, with 91 through five games.
On the other hand, Texas State has allowed the most first downs in the conference totaling at 178.
Bobcat defensive coordinator Zac Spavital described last week’s outing versus BYU as “disappointing” and hopes to provide a winning formula on defense to close out the season.
“It was the first time since I’ve been here where I felt like we didn’t accept the challenge like we needed to,” Spavital said when outlining the defense’s performance in Provo. “I think we’ll be better for it but it wasn’t the standard that I’m hoping we bring the next five games.”
Texas State: Trick or Treat
Historically, the Bobcats have fared well in games falling on Halloween. The Ragin’ Cajuns’ visit to San Marcos marks the tenth Halloween all-time matchup for the ‘Cats. Texas State played their first game on Halloween in 1919 and has obtained a record of 5-4 on the final day of October.
Bobcat head coach Jake Spavital has yet to taste the trick of defeat on Halloween with an overall record of 2-0.
Spavital won both of his October 31 contests, once as an offensive graduate assistant at Houston in 2009 with the other victory coming in 2015 as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Texas A&M.
Special Teams Spotlight
Louisiana has produced four of the eight special team’s players of the week in the Sun belt thus far in 2020.
Spavital realizes the big-play ability by Louisiana is something to map onto Texas State’s radar heading into their matchup.
“They [Louisiana] take a lot of pride and they put quality players out there during special teams,” Spavital said. “We’re going to have to be able to play complimentary football in all three phases of the game because they can attack you in all three phases pretty consistently.”
In particular, special teams played a vital role in determining the outcome of the game for these two teams during week two of the season.
The Ragin’ Cajuns defeated Georgia State in overtime by three with a game-winning field goal. The Bobcats lost to UTSA in double overtime by three following a missed extra point attempt.
Regardless of the maroon and gold’s 1-6 start, an upset win over the number one team in the Sun Belt West would catapult Texas State to a potential first-place tie in the division.
Every conference game Louisiana played thus far in 2020 has been decided by three points or less. The Bobcats also have the extra motivation of playing at home for the first time in seven weeks.
A closer game than the initial 16.5-point line wouldn’t come as much of a surprise knowing Texas State has demolished the previous two spreads during games in San Marcos this season.
Prediction: Louisiana 27, Texas State 21.
Radio coverage of Texas State’s Halloween battle against Louisiana begins at 6:30 p.m. on KTSW 89.9 over the airwaves. ESPNU will provide the television broadcast for the Bobcats and Ragin’ Cajuns. Live tweets, updates and analysis on all things Texas State football can all be found on @KTSWSports on Twitter.
Header image by Texas State Athletics.