The University of Louisiana – Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns finished their season 8-4 and 6-2 in conference, losing only to North Texas and Arkansas State. Their in-conference record was good enough for second in the Sun Belt Conference behind Arkansas State. The Ragin’ Cajuns went 2-2 in out of conference play, beating Lamar (FCS) and Tulane, and losing to Oklahoma State and No. 6 Florida.
With only East Carolina left to play, taking a look at ULL’s schedule in thirds could shine some light on the Pirates bowl opponent.
Louisiana – Lafayette started the season by crushing an FCS opponent 40-0 (Lamar), just as ECU similarly did against App State, 35-13. The Ragin’ Cajuns followed that up with a victory over Troy (37-24) before losing to Oklahoma State (65-24). ULL completed the first third of the season with a 48-20 win over Florida International. These three wins were against three teams with a losing record, including the previously mentioned FCS opponent. The loss was to a Big 12 team. At 3-1, the Ragin’ Cajuns were winning the games they were supposed to be winning, and lost the game they were supposed to lose.
Entering the midseason stretch at 3-1, ULL beat Tulane 41-13 before losing two straight games to North Texas (30-23) and Arkansas State (50-27). The Ragin’ Cajuns bounced back with a 40-24 win over Louisiana Monroe to maintain a winning record.
Louisiana-Lafayette’s game against Tulane was the only contest they played against an opponent that the Pirates played as well. Though Tulane finished with just two wins, ULL handled a lesser opponent the way they should. ECU played down to Tulane’s level, winning by a five-point margin (28-23). The Pirates shouldn’t face that problem in the bowl game, as the teams seem to be a good match for each other.
Louisiana – Lafayette was 5-3 entering their biggest game of the year; a trip to the Swamp to face No. 6 Florida. The Ragin’ Cajuns led 20-13 with two minutes left in the game, but watched the Gators score a touchdown with 1:42 remaining to tie the game, and another with two seconds remaining to win the game.
The gut wrenching loss proved that ULL had the tools to compete against quality programs. The Ragin’ Cajuns did not lose another game following the loss to Florida. ULL beat Western Kentucky (31-27), South Alabama (52-30), and Florida Atlantic (35-21) to end the season with their 8-4 record.
This Louisiana – Lafayette team has had a successful 2012 season, but has played its share of impressive, and not so impressive, games as the year progressed.
Truthfully, many parallels could be drawn to ECU’s team and their inconsistent play (The Pirates’ loss to Navy or South Carolina, compared to their wins against Marshall and Houston). It seems like it will all depend on which ULL team shows up, the one that played Florida? Or the one that played Arkansas State? Will they take on the Pirates that played Houston? Or the same team that played Navy? The answer could very well be the key to a bowl victory down in New Orleans.