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Football: UL unveils exciting future schedules

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, March 28, 2013

A date with Southern that seems bound to fill Cajun Field yet again and home-and-home series with both in-state foe Louisiana Tech and nationally respected Boise State highlight a slate of upcoming non-conference games for UL that the Ragin’ Cajuns announced Wednesday.

Also on tap, though not yet officially announced: a UL visit to Kentucky of the SEC on Sept. 5, 2015.

The Cajuns will play six home homes in 2014, 2015 and 2016 — each up one from their previously announced five for 2013.

UL will open its 2014 season at home against Southern of the FCS SWAC on Aug. 30, make road trips to Ole Miss of the SEC (as previously reported) on Sept. 13 and Boise State of the Mountain West on Sept. 20, and play Conference USA-bound Louisiana Tech of Conference at Cajun Field on Oct. 4.

Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth said playing Boise State, which played in both the 2006 season’s and 2009 season’s Fiesta Bowls, elevates UL’s schedule "an awful lot."

"I think the respectable part of it is it’s a home-and-home," Hudspeth said. "It’s not a two-for-one, it (isn’t) a three-for-one.

"We’ve got a home-and-home against, to me, one of the top programs that’s done it in a non-BCS (AQ) conference," he added. "We’re aspiring to be like them, so it will be a great measuring stick, and we’re excited."

Boise State and UL have never met, and the Cajuns have never played Kentucky either.

Southern, located in Baton Rouge, helped to deliver the largest crowd ever to Cajun Field — 41,357, which is 2,574 more than next-largest Texas A&M in 1996, and 10,357 beyond listed capacity — when it last visited on Sept. 5, 2009.

With Southern fans responsible for filling a significant number of seats in that one, UL beat the Jaguars 42-19.

Hudspeth expects a much-more pro-UL crowd this time around.

"Our fans — we’re gonna fill the stands, and they’re gonna buy up all the tickets," he said.

In 2015, the Cajuns announced they’ll also play Akron — the return game of a home-and-home series that has UL visiting the MAC’s Zips in 2013 — on either on either Sept. 19 or 26 at home and Louisiana Tech at home on Oct. 3.

They still have to schedule another 2015 game at home, and — according to a new release from the school — it will be "most likely against an FCS opponent."

The Louisiana Tech game, Hudspeth suggested, should have extra meaning for Cajun fans as well.

The Bulldogs and Cajuns have not met since 85 times since 1910, but not since Louisiana Tech won 20-14 at home in 2004.

The last time Louisiana Tech came to Cajun Field was in 2003, when it won 34-3.

"Anytime you have game against in-state opponents," Hudspeth said, "it always creates a lot of buzz, a lot of fun.

"And they’re a very good football program. That will be a great series to re-start. "» I know we’re looking forward to competing against them, and I’m sure they are the same against us.

"So, it will be fun, it will be for bragging rights," the Cajun coach added. "I just think any time you play in-state opponents it’s good for the state. It’s good for each school, because you know you’re gonna pack the stadiums. Financially, it’s good for both programs."

Boise State will pay a return visit to Lafayette to open the 2016 season on Sept. 3 of that year, and UL will play at Tulane on Oct. 8 to complete a home-and-home series that had the Green Wave at Cajun Field for a loss this past season.

"To get a team like Boise State to visit," UL athletic director Scott Farmer said in a statement, "speaks volumes about how far this program has come in recent years."

The Cajuns still need to book one home game and one road game to complete their 2016 schedule.

"We have been able to put together schedules for the next couple of seasons that follow the blueprint we desire," said Farmer, who added that the program’s "goal" is to play at least six games at Cajun Field each season.

Schools officials last week announced plans for almost $70 in renovations to Cajun Field, including the short-term addition of 5,900 end-zone seats and eventual expansion from 31,000 to at least 50,000.

"The remaining non-conference games," Farmer said, "should be against regional opponents that are close enough to allow our fans to make the trip if possible.

"We are always looking for a home-and-home series against a team that our fans will enjoy watching."

UL’s previously announced 2013 non-conference schedule has Nicholls State of the FCS Southland Conference visiting on Sept. 14, followed by for-now-independent New Mexico State on Nov. 2. The Cajuns also play Sun Belt home games in the coming season against Texas State on Oct. 5, Troy on Nov. 7 and UL Monroe on Nov. 30.