Cajuns Will Go Bowling!: Here’s Why
Is the Louisiana Ragin' Cajun football team going bowling for the 6th time in the last 7 years?
Put me in the "yes" department.
You don't believe me?
Come on now; don't be a hater!
Truthfully, it's still too early to be talking about this, but I'm going to be hypocritical and discuss it anyway.
I'm normally the one that says to wait to judge a team at the end of the season. But since a lot of people gave this Louisiana team up for dead three weeks into the season, and even before last Saturday, I want to discuss their chances of being bowl eligible right now
Does Saturday's 21-16 win over Idaho mean all the UL's defensive problems have been solved? No, not even close. It's not like the Cajuns are going to be mistaken for the Kansas City Chiefs anytime soon.
I'll be the first one to tell you to enjoy the victory, but not to get too excited, as it's only one game.
I told a lot of the naysayers not to panic after the 1-3 start.
I kind of get it though; we live in a microwave society, so we're extremely quick to judge.
That being said, I had this team going 6-6 at the beginning of the season, and I actually had them at 2-3 through 5 games, even though I must admit that I had them defeating ULM, and losing to Idaho.
So, why do I think they're going to finish with 6 wins?
Well, it starts this Thursday night, against Texas St., in what I think will be a must-win game for the Cajuns.
Yes, I am concerned about a short week, and quite frankly, Louisiana isn't good enough to play poorly and win any game on their schedule the rest of the way. But Texas St. is 1-5, and I think Louisiana is just better.
The Bobcats have scored only 87 points over their first 6 games. That's an average of only 14.5 points-per-game, which is worst in the conference.
Again, a lot of my concerns about the defense have not gone away, but if they play anywhere near the level they played at against Idaho, they'll just score too many points for Texas St. to answer.
By the way; Texas St. has allowed 202 points this season. Only the Cajuns have allowed more, so it's not like they're good on defense either.
Another reason I like Louisiana on Thursday night is because they've dominated the Bobcats in the series between the two, since they began playing as Sun Belt Conference members in 2013.
That year, UL won, 48-24, before winning, 34-10, in 2014, 49-27 in 2015, and 27-3 last year.
So, over the last four years, Louisiana is 4-0 against Texas St., beating them by an average 23.5 points a contest.
Finally, I like the Cajuns on Thursday night because they're playing at home. Yes, it's a short week for them, after a long trip back from Idaho, but it's a short week for Texas St. too, and the home team always has the advantage, especially on a short week.
If Louisiana takes care of business, that would put them at 3-3, needing three wins to get to 6.
The following week, the Cajuns would go to Jonesboro, Arkansas, to face Arkansas St.
Just like I believe Texas St. is capable of coming to Cajun Field and winning on Thursday night, I also believe Louisiana is certainly capable of defeating Arkansas St.
I think we all have the tendency to overrate some of the teams in the conference. Trust me, nobody is unbeatable.
ASU turned over the football 5 times against Georgia Southern last week. If they do that against UL, I like the Cajuns' chances.
Since I'm trying to be 100% truthful however, my pick would be Arkansas St. I think they're a legit contender for the conference title, plus they'll be playing at home, on a Thursday night.
If this holds true to form, that would give Louisiana a 3-4 record, after 7 games.
Next, the Cajuns would head to Mobile, Alabama for a big game against South Alabama, on November 4.
I like their chances here.
Yes, it's on the road, but South Alabama is 1-4, and has to play Troy this week, before hosting ULM, who is unbeaten in conference play, before traveling to face Georgia St., prior to hosting UL.
The Jaguars may have very little to play for by the time the Cajuns come to town.
Like Texas St., I think the South Alabama game will be another "must-win" for Louisiana, but I like their chances here, and see them at 4-4 after 8 games.
Following South Alabama, the Cajuns travel to Oxford, Mississippi, to take on the Ole Miss Rebels.
I think this is a winnable game. After all, Ole Miss is 2-3, with only wins over South Alabama and Tennessee-Martin, two teams with non-winning records, who they allowed a combined 50 to.
Louisiana has still yet to defeat an SEC team in school history however, so my pick would be the Rebels.
That would put UL at 4-5.
Next up would be New Mexico St. on November 18, for homecoming.
I must admit, this one has me the most weary about my bowl prediction.
The Aggies are only 2-4, but only lost by 6 points to Arizona St., and by 3 points to Troy.
New Mexico St. has also played, by far, the toughest conference schedule to date, with Troy and Appalachian St. all now in their rearview mirror.
Look for New Mexico St. to win at least 2 of their next 3 games, and to come into Cajun Field with at least 4 wins.
What concerns me about New Mexico St., other than the fact that they're better than most anticipated, and the fact that they've beaten Louisiana in each of the past two seasons, is that they have a bye week prior to coming to Lafayette, meaning they'll have two weeks to prepare for the Cajuns.
The Aggies, who are playing their final season in the Sun Belt Conference, haven't appeared in a bowl game since 1960, and a win over Louisiana would go a long way in helping them achieve that elusive goal.
Again, if you look as the entire picture, including intangibles, I could see one favoring New Mexico St.
Certainly, things can change, and likely will, but if the scenario plays out like I envision, it would be more of a "must-win" game for the Cajuns, while New Mexico St. would have at least some breathing room, seemingly to be favored in their last two games, both at home, against Idaho and South Alabama.
The Aggies also turn over the football an awful lot, as evidenced by their 6 turnovers against Appalachian St. last week.
I admit, I'm extremely nervous about this one, but I like UL, which would put them at 5-5.
Next up would be Georgia Southern, who is having all sorts of issues, and is arguably the worst team in the league.
How bad is Georgia Southern? Arkansas St. turned over the ball 5 times against them last week, and yet still won by 18 points.
With nothing to play for, and plenty on the line for the home team, I see Louisiana, who is simply the better team, winning, which would get them to 6 wins, even before their regular season finale, in Boone, North Carolina, against Appalachian St.
Do I pick the Cajuns over the Mountaineers? No. I think Appalachian St., who doesn't have to play Troy or Arkansas St., may very well be playing for at least a share of the conference title on that day.
Understand, however, it works both ways. UL, if they get tripped up in a game I predicted them to win, such as New Mexico St., may have a lot on the line too, like their season, so I'd certainly give them a shot.
So, what I have here, and I think it's very realistic, is the Cajuns finishing with a 6-6 record, which would send them to a bowl.
Look, my prediction means zilch, as does yours. A lot of things, such as injuries, match-ups, and momentum, can completely change things. The bottom line is the games are going to be determined on the field.
I hope they win out and go 9-3.
Also, understand, I'm not saying it's okay to just settle for a 6-6 record, if they finish with that record.
I'm just trying to make a realistic argument for the Cajuns to be bowl eligible at the end of the year, and I think I've convinced myself.
What? Still don't believe me?!?!?
Don't be a hater!