A week before facing off against Billy Napier and his new team in Gainesville, Florida State will face off against the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns in Tallahassee.
Napier’s success in the boot in 2021 is what earned him his job with the Gators — last season, the Ragin’ Cajuns went 13-1 on the season, falling only to the Texas Longhorns in the season opener.
Louisiana has been one of the top teams in the Sun Belt over the past few seasons, having won more than 10 games every year since 2019. While they bring back a bit of experience and talent on both sides of the ball, it lost a ton of production — 42 percent of it, in fact. Its offense took a major hit, with its starting quarterback and the majority of its offensive line having departed, in addition to talented running back Montrell Johnson Jr., who transferred to Florida. Across the board on offense, Louisiana lost 49% of its production. In comparison, FSU lost 26%.
While this serves as FSU’s second non-Power Five opponent of the season, Louisiana is a far cry from what the Seminoles will see Week 0 vs. the Duquesne Dukes. Despite the lost production and first-year head coach, the Ragin’ Cajuns were still picked to win the Sun Belt in its preseason poll.
Opponent: Louisiana-Layfette Ragin’ Cajuns
Date: November 19, 2022
Last matchup: First meeting
Louisiana-Layfette Ragin’ Cajuns: Team Preview
2021 record: 13-1 (8-0 Sun Belt)
Names to Know
Chris Smith, running back
A first-team Sun Belt selection for his performance in 2021 and a preseason first-team selection for what’s to come in 2022, Smith established himself as Louisana’s leading back last season, outpacing even now-transferred Johnson Jr. to put up 855 yards on 153 rushes. The Ragin’ Cajuns are run-first and Smith should serve as an anchor in an ocean of quarterback and coaching change.
He’s also a pretty talented return specialist:
Zi’Yon Hill-Green, defensive line
Since his freshman year in 2017, Hill-Green has served as a rock for the Louisiana defense. He lead them in tackles in 2020, in 2021 was second on the team in sacks (6.5) and tackles for loss (9.5), and has earned all-conference honors every year since 2019.
Florida State Seminoles vs. Louisiana-Layfette Prediction
Setting the standard a week before the Lizards by beating up on Napier’s old family. Scheduling a non-P5 opponent is supposed to mean a big win so the Seminoles get their money’s worth by taking it to Louisiana, with all three scholarship quarterbacks getting to take snaps not out of necessity, but luxury.
Louisiana isn’t exactly a pushover — as covered in the intro, they’ve found a groove of success over the past few years and have built an identity as a program. The Ragin’ Cajuns put up a fight — almost too good of one — and the game ends up being competitive until late in the third quarter.
Florida State, overwhelmed by the second half of the season, collapses a week before a major rivalry matchup and gets outclassed by a Sun Belt team that has built up this game all season long as a chance to prove itself. Smith runs wild as Hill-Green, combined with a decent pass rush and backfield presence from Andre Jones, wreak havoc on a Seminoles’ offense that’s been through the ringer.