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Football: UL, ULM rivalry gets hotter

Tim Buckley, Daily Advertiser, Nov. 26, 2013

Game: 6 p.m., Saturday, Cajun Field.
Radio: 107.9 FM/1420 AM.
Records: ULM 5-6, 3-3; UL 8-2, 5-0.
Series: UL leads 25-23.

When he arrived in Lafayette from Starkville, Miss., in 2011, UL defensive lineman Chris Prater wasn’t especially familiar with the in-state rivalry between UL and UL Monroe.

Watching the Ragin’ Cajuns use two late touchdowns and a recovered onsides kick to rally from 11 points down with just more than two minutes remaining to win 36-35 while he was redshirting as a freshman two seasons ago had to help.

But Prater’s first real taste came last season, when the Cajuns won 40-24 in Monroe.

“Ever since then … the importance of it has been building up each game leading up to this one,” he said.

That would be the one that will be played Saturday night at Cajun Field, where 5-6 ULM tries to become bowl-eligible against an 8-2 UL team that has won eight in a row and is looking to clinch at least a share of the 2013 Sun Belt Conference championship.

Mark Hudspeth, meanwhile, also arrived in Lafayette in 2011 from Starkville, where his job before becoming head coach of the Cajuns was as wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator at Mississippi State.

He believes rebounding to beat ULM like UL did in 2011 amplified matters in a series the Cajuns lead 25-23, including five straight wins.

But what really ratcheted things to another level was the victory in 2012, and what Hudspeth on Monday called a “fluke play at the end of the game that really wasn’t planned.”

Some in Monroe felt UL’s 81-yard, over-the-top touchdown pass from current Cajun quarterback Terrance Broadway to current starting wideout Jamal Robinson as time expired in what wound up a 16-point win was unnecessarily excessive.

Some in Lafayette felt it wouldn’t have happened had ULM not rushed Broadway with an all-out blitz in what was at the time an unwinnable 10-point game.

“It just unfortunately happened that way,” Hudspeth said during his weekly media gathering Monday. “But, nevertheless, the way the game ended probably didn’t do much to ease any tensions on either side.

“But we respect their program an awful lot,” he added. “I think (ULM) Coach (Todd) Berry is an outstanding football coach, and always has his team prepared.”

Hudspeth and the Cajuns, it seems, are doing as much as they can to send as little bulletin-board material Monroe’s way as humanly possible this week.

Asked Monday just how big he thinks the UL-ULM rivalry has become, starting offensive tackle Mykhael Quave – also from Mississippi – hemmed and hawed.

“Me personally … I … I’m trying to figure out to answer this … I acknowledge them … umm … No comment,” he said.

Hudspeth really does want his Cajuns, who are awaiting a third straight bowl bid and looking to stay undefeated in Sun Belt play, to keep things quiet between now and Saturday.

“We always try to keep every game in perspective,” he said. “We won’t prepare any different for this game than any other game.

“Our players read the paper. They read the Internet, unfortunately. So they know everything that’s going on,” Hudspeth added. “But we’re just trying to keep that mindset of, ‘one game at a time, doing our job, control what we can control.’ When we have that mindset, we tend to do the best.”

Athletic Network Footnote:
Click here for video of Coach Hud on team’s schedule for Thanksgiving week and UL-M game.