1. Started from the bottom
Remember where the Cajuns were when they went to their first New Orleans Bowl four years ago? Coach Mark Hudspeth does. “We promised these kids when we signed this senior class four years ago,” Hudspeth said. “You know, we didn’t have bowl championships — we didn’t have a bowl game to show them. We didn’t have a conference championship. We didn’t have an Adidas contract. We didn’t have facilities being built like they are now. We just said, ‘Come in and trust us, this is where we’re going to get to.’ And they did.”
2. 10 a.m. in New Orleans
Much has been made about the early kickoff time, with the New Orleans Bowl officially igniting the 2014-15 bowl season at 10 a.m. Saturday. It’ll certainly be an obstacle for both teams, but it might be particularly hard on the Wolf Pack, whose wake-up will come at 4 a.m. Pacific time. But neither coach has been giving too much credence to the kickoff time affecting performance, as they’ve been preparing their teams for it with early practices. The fans might be affected the most by the early start.
3. Dreams Running Can Buy
This game may be won or lost depending on which team can best establish the running game. Both the Cajuns (229.4 yards per game) and the Wolf Pack (215.2) have been successful rushing the ball this season, but both defenses are better suited to stopping the ground game. The Cajuns want to establish the ground game early as a way to keep Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo off the field, but they are anticipating a challenge. “They’re very good against the run and we like to run the ball,” Hudspeth said. “Something’s got to give there.”
The Cajuns have been racking up a lot of them in recent years, and they can accomplish a bit of history if they win Saturday. They’re already part of a select group of company having won three consecutive New Orleans Bowl titles, but if they beat Nevada, they’ll become the first team in college football history to win the same bowl four years in a row. The bowl wins have become the signature mark of what has become a winning program, and if the Cajuns are able to add another trophy to their expanding case, it’ll only add to the momentum Hudspeth has going in Lafayette.