LAFAYETTE — The UL-Lafayette football team added Texas A&M to its nonconference schedule for 2017, the schools announcing Tuesday a one-game contract for a Sept. 16 meeting in College Station.
“That hopefully says a lot about where our program has come,” Ragin’ Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth said. “Because now, with the strength of schedule being so important within the ‘Power Five’ (conferences) and being able to get into national playoff contention, your strength of schedule has to be good. (The Aggies) obviously think we’re a quality program for sure if they want to schedule us.”
The teams will be playing for the seventh time, all of them since 1990 and all but one of them at A&M’s Kyle Field, which is currently undergoing a $450 million renovation and expansion — one of the largest college football stadium redevelopments ever. The renovation is slated for completion before the 2015 season.
“It’ll be a great challenge,” Hudspeth said. “They’ve got a lot of excitement and momentum over there. If you’re a competitor, you want to play against the best. We’ve been trying to do that each year.”
The Cajuns travel to Ole Miss and Boise State this year after opening the season with home games against Southern and Louisiana Tech. The A&M game is one of two non-Sun Belt Conference games penciled in for 2017, joining a Sept. 9 date against Tulsa.
UL-Lafayette is 1-5 all-time against A&M, with all five losses in College Station. The meeting in Lafayette is the most memorable to Cajuns fans: UL-Lafayette upset the No. 25 Aggies 29-22 in 1996.
“You schedule opponents each year, whether it’s the SEC or whoever, just to challenge yourself,” Hudspeth said. “It creates excitement within your program and your fan base. You want to play the best because one day we want to be the best.”