The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs and Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns kick off the 2022 college football season this weekend.
The Bulldogs take on Missouri Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. Two days later, the Ragin’ Cajuns host Southland Conference opponent Southeastern Louisiana at 7 p.m. ET.
On DraftKings Sportsbook Louisiana, Louisiana Tech is +20.5 in its road match-up with Missouri. Odds for the Ragin’ Cajuns-Lions game are not available on any major sportsbooks.
While Louisiana will likely contend with Appalachian State for a Sun Belt title, La. Tech has one of the lowest preseason win totals of any team in Conference USA.
Regular Season Win Totals for Louisiana, Louisiana Tech
The Ragin’ Cajuns enter the season with a regular season win total of 8.5 at most sportsbooks. The Bulldogs’ number is just 4.5. While oddsmakers agree on the totals for both clubs, the prices do vary. Before betting on either total, consider the following:
|Louisiana Tech Bulldogs||O4.5 (-140)|
|O4.5 (-125 )
|Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns||O8.5 (-120)|
As those prices indicate, the Bulldogs have a better chance to win five games or more, and the Cajuns have a good chance to go over as well. This means bettors who expect either of these teams to hit the Over will have to bet more than $100 to win $100.
Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Over/Under 8.5
The Ragin’ Cajuns won a total of 40 games the last four years and appeared in four Sun Belt title games under Billy Napier, who is now coaching the Florida Gators. That begs the question: How does this team fare without the coach behind the program’s recent emergence as a Sun Belt power.
Replacing Billy Napier
Napier’s replacement, Michael Desormeaux, served as Napier’s offensive coordinator as the Cajuns played in the Sun Belt Conference Championship game in 2018, 2019 and 2021 (they made the title game in 2020, but it was canceled due to COVID). He also starred at QB for Louisiana from 2005-08 and has been on staff as an assistant since 2015.
Desormeaux acquitted himself well in his first game as head coach, leading Louisiana to a 36-21 win over Marshall in last season’s New Orleans Bowl. Long-term, Desormeaux appears capable of keeping the program rolling.
However this is not the team that finished the 2021 season 13-1, with the only loss to Texas, and ranked No. 16 in the AP poll, one year after a then-program-best 10-1 season in 2021.
New Faces on Offense
In addition to replacing Napier, Louisiana is breaking in a new defensive coordinator, quarterback, running back(s) and three starters on the O-line.
On defense, the cupboard is less bare – per The Athletic, the Cajuns return 59% of the tackling production from a year ago, and 60% or more of the TFLs, sacks and interceptions recorded last year.
Favorable Schedule Makes the Over Enticing
In three of Louisiana’s four non-conference games, it will be heavily favored. Even if the trip to Tallahassee to play Florida State in November is considered a sure loss (related: should it be, considering the Noles’ recent non-conference history?), the Ragin’ Cajuns should win three games outside of Sun Belt play.
In conference, Louisiana avoids multiple Sun Belt contenders. The list of top potential conference opponents the Cajuns will avoid starts with clear league favorite Appalachian State. Including Louisiana (No. 76), six teams in the conference are ranked in the ESPN College Football Power Index’s top 90: Appalachian State (No. 55), Marshall (No. 59), Troy (No. 80), Coastal Carolina (No. 86) and Georgia State (No. 90).
Oddsmakers agree that those six are the best bets to win the league, ranging from BetRivers favorite App State (+200) to Troy (+1,000). In fact, second-favorite Louisiana (+350) does not play either league favorite App or BetRivers’ third-favorite, Coastal Carolina (+500).
Desormeaux and Co. play just two of the Sun Belt’s projected top six: Marshall on the road on Wednesday, October 12, and Troy at home on Saturday, November 5.
The Cajuns could lose to both teams they will likely be underdogs against (Marshall and Florida State) — and drop the match-up with Troy — and still go 9-3. That makes the over a smart play. It also explains why it would currently take a bet of $120 (DraftKings) or $135 (FanDuel) to make $100 betting Louisiana Over 8.5 regular season wins.
Louisiana Tech Over/Under 4.5
Many will look at Louisiana Tech’s out-of-conference schedule and immediately lean toward Under 4.5 Wins for this team. The first three weeks include a road opener at Missouri in a game the Bulldogs enter as 20.5-point underdogs and a trip to AP No. 4 Clemson. The urge to bet the Under makes a lot of sense, especially given prognosticators expect Louisiana Tech to struggle in Conference USA – this team is +3200 to win the league, longer odds than all but UTEP, Florida International and Rice.
After posting a 10-win season in 2019 that included an Independence Bowl win over Miami, Louisiana Tech won five regular season games in 2020 and three in 2021. This year, with two all-but-guaranteed losses outside Conference USA, it is hard to foresee any more than four wins for the Bulldogs, making DraftKings’ Under 4.5 Regular Season Wins (+120) the clear play.
AP Photo/Karl B. DeBlaker