LAFAYETTE, La. -- There's a party-like atmosphere brewing here in Lafayette, home of the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns (they dropped Lafayette from the Cajuns athletic team names earlier this summer). And the party is not just because the LIVE GPP BLOG starts in about 14 hours at 4:45 p.m. Miami time.
When FIU takes on UL on Saturday it will mark the 1,000th game in the history of the Cajuns football program which started in 1901. Also UL RB Tyrell Fenroy (right) is 30 yards shy from becoming just the 7th rusher in the history of the NCAA to run for 1,000 or more yards in four consecutive seasons, it's homecoming and the fans at Cajun Field will let you know about it in case you didn't know.
And most importantly, the Cajuns -- which have the No. 1 rushing offense in the NCAA -- are trying to stay in the first place party in the Sun Belt with Troy and not invite 2nd place FIU to the top.
Took a tour of the UL football facilities and Cajun Field on Friday afternoon with former FIU and current Cajuns defensive coordinator Kevin Fouquier. Former FIU DBs coach Hurlie Brown is also here as the Cajuns DBs coach. Heck, even FIU Fanatic is here too, whom I met with his wife in the hotel lobby on Friday.
As I entered UL there were already about 40 RVs with UL fans cooking and having adult beverages and that was more than 24 hours before Saturday's kickoff.
Was told by KF that those folks will sleep at Cajun Field tonight and continue tailgating late Friday into Saturday morning. "Well, that there's an RV, Clark. A recreational vehicle".
Cajun Field got a new field turf installed this year and the field itself is 2 feet below sea level. When you enter the field from the tunnel through which both FIU and UL will enter on Saturday afternoon you are literally walking 2 feet below sea level. Cajun Field sits in sort of like a pit and the stands are up on hills all around the stadium -- a different stadium indeed.
So with all the festivities going on around the UL campus and Cajun Field, time to wonder if the "party poopers from Miami" made the trip here?
Talking about your Golden Panthers. Can they crash this Cajun party on Saturday?
In years past, we would have easily said FIU has no shot at winning this game, against this type of team in a hostile environment on what is slated to be a special day for the Cajuns football program with the 1,000th game and Fenroy setting records.
Like Clawing Cancer pointed out, UL has always given FIU fits with its spread option offense. QB Michael Desormeaux (left) and his predecessor Jerry Babb are masters of running this test-your-heart-rate, hurry-up-all-game offense. Along with the No. 1 rush O, the Cajuns have the No. 7 total O in the NCAA.
One key is how well the UL QB hides the football on plays. We've seen teams this season going to tackle TF and then out of a pile of blockers MD emerges with the ball and breaks one for 50+ yards. That's why MD is the top rushing QB in the NCAA with 118 yards per game.
If teams focus too much on the run, then MD hits Jason Chery with a play-action pass and JC from SFLA has the classic FLA speed to not be caught. An interesting foot race: T.Y. vs. JC?
Jeremiah Weatherspoon (right) and the rest of the FIU secondary will need to come up big time, not only helping to stop the run, but staying alert to the play-action pass.
So even with all that I can tell you that FIU CAN WIN THIS GAME. Stay disciplined on D and fulfill your assignments. Make a handful of stops of UL's O and play ball control with the FIU O. Get a big play or two on special teams and make no silly mistakes or penalties and FIU is going home 4-4 and 3-1 in the SBC.
The Cajuns have the best O in the Sun Belt and one of the best in the NCAA. Their D can be scored on judging by the 33 points they allow per game. However, would not surprise me to see UL as the SBC Champs playing in the New Orleans Bowl in December. Troy is not as good as FIU made them look.
My thought here about this game and the rest of the season....and you can write it in permanent black marker wherever you'd like -- if FIU beats UL, the Golden Panthers will run the table the rest of the season and either end up in the Big Easy or a Sun Belt tie-in bowl game.
That's how much I think the game against the Cajuns means to the Golden Panthers and their confidence level. There is no team left on FIU's schedule this season that is as dangerous as the Cajuns and that's not the gumbo I ate here on Friday talking.
However, still think there is TOO much for FIU to overcome on Saturday (Fenroy and his 1,000 yards, Desormeaux, Chery, 1,000th Cajuns game and an amped up, sold out Cajun homecoming crowd).
If FIU perseveres, then as they say at the Blue Dog Cafe off Pinhook Road in Lafayette: "Y'all be fixin' to come on back here and tell me so".
LOUISIANA 42, FIU 30
GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE
The GPP WORLDWIDE READERSHIP gained some new members with our last two poll questions regarding the FIU volleyball team -- which won again on Friday to make it 9 straight wins and 11 wins in their last 12 games. And FIU's most improved defensive player.
GPP readers in Seattle, Washington and Japan think FIU volleyball is a model for all other FIU teams.
GPP readers in Carson City, Nevada and Reno, Nevada think Tyler Clawson (right) is the most improved FIU defender. But our GPP Japan reader thinks it's Quentin Newman.
Thus far 88 percent (that's a GPP poll agreement record) of you good people think FIU volleyball's season is a model for all other FIU teams. And more than 50 percent of you think Tyler Clawson is the most improved FIU D-er.
Roll out the GPP READERSHIP SCORECARD:
The GPP is read in: 36 STATES: ALA, ARI, CA, COL, FLA, GA, HI, IDAHO, IL, IND, IOWA, KAN, KY, LA, MASS, MD, MICH, MIN, MISS, MO, NEB, NEV, NC, NJ, NY, OH, ORE, PA, RI, SC, TEN, TEX, VA, VER, WASH, WISC.
19 COUNTRIES: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Brazil, Czech Republic, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom, U.S.A., Venezuela.
1 DISTRICT: Washington, D.C. and 1 TERRITORY: Puerto Rico.
Last chance to get scores for FIU/UL for our WIN A GPP BLOG contest is at 4:59 p.m. GPP Time on Saturday.