It can’t be all sunshine and rainbows, even on homecoming.
ESPN currently gives the Vandals over a 60% chance to win on Saturday against Louisiana-Lafayette, but there is serious cause for concern undermining that rosy outlook.
The Ragin’ Cajuns lead the all-time series between the two teams 3-2 dating back to 2001. Here’s why they could tack on another win this weekend.
Louisiana-Lafayette consistently features a potent offense attack, and this year is no different. Through four games, the Ragin’ Cajuns are putting up 36.2 points per game, good for 27th in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and ahead of high-powered offenses at Louisville, Arizona State and Michigan. They also put up 477 yards per game on average, which again puts them in the top 30 in the FBS.
The Vandals may have beaten the Ragin’ Cajuns 23-13 last year, but the Cajuns appear to have taken massive steps to improve their offensive output. They are on pace to be 100 yards better per game on offense, and they currently are scoring 14 more points per game than last year’s team. Idaho has made no such strides, and is putting up equivalent yardage to last year while scoring fewer points thus far.
Facing a dynamic offense firing on all cylinders could be enough to doom Idaho.
The Vandals have struggled to contain offenses that are statistically inferior to Louisiana-Lafayette. Idaho gave up 44 points to UNLV, who has scored considerably fewer points and put up less yards against a schedule that is quite comparable to Louisiana-Lafayette. Idaho also allowed 38 points against Western Michigan, who ranks in the bottom half of the FBS in terms of points per game and is 112th out of 130 teams in terms of yards per game.
Idaho has not performed well against even mediocre offenses, and the Cajun’s potent attack could give Idaho fits.
Most foreboding of all, however, is the difference in mascots. Everyone knows that a hypothetical grudge match between teams’ mascots is a very accurate predictor of how the real football game will play out.
Vandal fans have much to be proud of in Joe Vandal, who just recently turned 100. His glorious muscles and voluminous facial hair call to mind a version of the ideal warrior, and his trademark grin endears him to fans of all ages.
However, Joe’s physical charms would be no match for his counterpart at Louisiana-Lafayette.
Louisiana-Lafayette, according to just about everyone from Bleacher Report to Fox Sports, has one of the best nicknames and mascots in college football, and with good reason. The university proudly utilizes an anthropomorphized pepper named Cayenne as its mascot, and Joe would be no match for the human-sized ball of spice.
The historical Vandals were a Germanic tribe from central Europe that probably had no tolerance for spicy foods, especially when they pack a literal punch like Cayenne does. Even getting close to something as spicy as a human-sized pepper would be enough to throw Joe’s tender palate into a painful frenzy and annihilate his chances.
All mascot related pseudo-analysis aside, the Ragin’ Cajuns have a truly potent offense that could be enough to challenge the Vandals on Saturday. Only time will tell if it will be enough to upset Idaho (and Joe’s stomach) on homecoming.
Jonah Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jonahpbaker