Here is a story from Tim Buckley of the Lafayette Advertiser, one of our Gannett partners. Louisiana plays at Arizona on Saturday at 2 p.m. For more on the Cajuns, who are 8-3 and headed to the New Orleans Bowl (their first postseason appearance since 1970), check out the Advertiser’s sports page.
By Tim Buckley
They’ve lost already this season to a Big 12 school.
But that was in their first game of the season, to an Oklahoma State team that was ranked in the top 10 at the time and that rose to as high as No. 2 in the country before being upset late by Iowa State.
And, frankly, no one in Stillwater that day was shocked that the Ragin’ Cajuns fell like they did.
This time, on Saturday, UL will face a rep from the Pac-12.
It is Arizona, and the 8-3 Cajuns will head there today with every reason to trust they can come home from Tucson with something besides bruises and another beat by one of the big boys.
“I feel if we go over there and play Ragin’ Cajun football — play aggressive, play fast, and just do what we do — there’s a good chance we’ll come back with a win,” senior defensive lineman Chris Tucker said.
Three-win Arizona, after all, has struggled for much of the season.
Mike Stoops was out as head coach mid-season following a 1-5 start; ex-Michigan and West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez will be in after this game.
The Wildcats are coming off an emotional win over Arizona State last weekend, but it’s possible that sapped whatever was left in a team essentially playing out the string.
And the Cajuns?
While this is the season finale for Arizona, UL has one left after Saturday — a Dec. 17 visit to the New Orleans Bowl against a to-be-determined opponent in the Superdome.
“It’s a great opportunity for us as a team — not only as UL, but also for the Sun Belt,” said senior noseguard Derreck Dean, who notes that four schools from the Cajuns’ conference — Arkansas State, UL, Western Kentucky and Florida International — are bowl-qualified.
“We’re just trying to go out there,” Dean added, “and show everybody we can play with these big teams.”
The Cajuns will attempt to do so with the benefit of surprise on their side.
This will be the first-ever meeting between UL and Arizona. And not since a 63-27 loss at Arizona State in October of 2001 have the Cajuns faced a team from the Pac-10/now Pac-12.
“It’s going to be very interesting, going out to play a Pac-12 team in the West — being that they probably don’t know anything about us,” said receiver Darryl Surgent, who had a couple touchdown catches in UL’s last outing, a Nov. 12 loss at Arkansas State. “It’s going to be new, so we’re looking forward to it.”
They should be, Cajuns head coach Mark Hudspeth.
But just not with overconfidence, Hudspeth warned this week.
“Arizona is a very talented team,” he said. “They’ve had a lot of adversity this year, obviously, with their football program.
“But they rebounded (last week) and got a good win against their rival, Arizona State — on the road.
“I’m sure that was a shot in the arm they needed for some momentum heading toward the end of their season,” Hudspeth added, “and I’m sure they want to end their season on a very high note.”
With a victory, that is, over a bowl-bound team from the Sun Belt.