GAME 1: at Kentucky

WHEN: 6 p.m. Sept. 5

WHERE: Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, Ky.

TV: ESPNU

Early storyline

The Wildcats return QB Patrick Towles, leading RB Stanley “Boom” Williams and WR Ryan Timmons, and all three should have bigger numbers with new coordinator Shannon Dawson’s emphasis on tempo. UK lost six in a row to end last year and has to replace now-NFL ends Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith on an undersized defense.

History with Louisiana-Lafayette

The teams have never met. The UL-Lafayette players are well aware of their school’s 1-61 record against current SEC teams ... and that one win came over a Texas A&M team that wasn’t in the SEC at the time.

Threat level

HIGH: The Wildcats may have gone 5-7 last year in their fourth straight no-bowl season, but they return a lot of offensive weapons. Even with their recent success, the Cajuns haven’t come out of the blocks well: They’re 0-4 in nonconference FBS openers under Mark Hudspeth.

GAME 2: Northwestern State

WHEN: 6 p.m. Sept. 12

WHERE: Cajun Field

ONLINE: ESPN3

Early storyline

The Demons are looking to improve on back-to-back 6-6 seasons and may have the offensive weapons to do that, with versatile FCS All-American WR Ed Eagan leading a group that could include LSU transfer Stephen Rivers at QB.

History with Louisiana-Lafayette

The Cajuns have played the Demons more than any other team on this year’s schedule except for Louisiana Tech, with UL-Lafayette’s home opener the 74th meeting. The Cajuns hold a 36-35-2 advantage, but most of those came when the teams were in the old Gulf States Conference. UL-Lafayette has won the past two, including a 49-28 home victory in 2005.

Threat level

MINIMAL: The last time UL-Lafayette faced a Southland team, it wound up with a 70-7 drubbing of Nicholls State two years ago. The Cajuns have won their past three games against FCS opponents by a combined score of 155-13.

GAME 3: Akron

WHEN: TBA Sept. 26

WHERE: Cajun Field

TV: TBA

Early storyline

Akron’s defense may be the best in the MAC, and that’s good because the offense is going to take some work. Often-injured QB Kyle Pohl was ineffective and the run game faltered at midseason last year as the Zips went 1-5 down the stretch. Coach Terry Bowden’s crew has several transfers who will play key roles, especially on defense.

History with Louisiana-Lafayette

The teams met once: The Cajuns won 35-30 at Akron in 2013. QB Terrance Broadway had a hand in all five scores, throwing for three and running for two.

Threat level

LOW: Both teams go into the season with questions at quarterback (even though he’s a senior, Pohl is in a three-way preseason battle), but the Zips struggled to score last year, only ran for 120 yards per game and don’t have big-play receivers. If the Cajuns can generate any offensive consistency against a solid Akron front seven, the Zips may not keep pace.

GAME 4: at Louisiana Tech

WHEN: 6 p.m. Oct. 3

WHERE: Joe Aillet Stadium, Ruston

TV: American Sports Network

Early storyline

For the second year in a row, the Bulldogs turn to a one-and-done QB, this time Jeff Driskel after he graduated from Florida. To help the transition, he has standout RB Kenneth Dixon and his 3,410 career rushing yards. The front seven must be rebuilt after Tech led the FBS in takeaways (42) last year.

History with Louisiana-Lafayette

It’s long and colorful — and recently lopsided. The series began in 1910, and the Bulldogs lead 47-33-6, thanks in part to winning the past seven meetings, including a 48-20 humbling of the host Cajuns last year. UL-Lafayette hasn’t beaten Tech since 1996.

Threat level

HIGH: UL-Lafayette still has nightmares of Dixon’s 99-yard up-the-gut touchdown run in last year’s beatdown, and Tech should be just as good offensively as the team that was moments away from beating Marshall for the C-USA title. The Cajuns don’t want any part of a shootout in Ruston.

GAME 5: Texas State

WHEN: TBA Oct. 10

WHERE: Cajun Field

TV: TBA

Early storyline

QB Tyler Jones and RB Robert Lowe give the Bobcats a solid one-two punch, and TSU is deep at WR for an offense that scored 99 points in its last two games. But an already shaky defense lost three of its top five players. CB David Mims II and LB Trey McGowan are the best of an unproven lot.

History with Louisiana-Lafayette

Texas State was a high-hopes newcomer to the Sun Belt in 2013, and UL-Lafayette popped the visitors 48-24 in TSU’s first league game. The Cajuns led 34-3 in San Marcos last year before the Bobcats scored a touchdown in the final minute.

Threat level

LOW: The Bobcats were bowl-eligible each of the past two years, getting snubbed after going 7-5 last season, but they haven’t matched up with the Cajuns at all in their first two meetings. UL-Lafayette’s offense took advantage of an undersized TSU defense last year and may be poised to do the same.

GAME 6: at Arkansas State

WHEN: 7 p.m. Oct. 20

WHERE: Centennial Bank Stadium, Jonesboro, Ark.

TV: ESPN2

Early storyline

In a league packed with QB talent, Fredi Knighten emerged as the Sun Belt’s top dual threat last season and is back for more. Most of the rushing attack and the top seven receivers return, as does most of the front wall.

History with Louisiana-Lafayette

The Cajuns won in stunning fashion last year, with Elijah McGuire going for 265 yards and four scores in a 55-40 win. The teams combined for four straight Sun Belt titles from 2011-14. UL-Lafayette has won five of the past seven meetings and leads the series 23-19-1.

Threat level

MODERATE: The Cajuns were built for shootout wins last year, which is what happened against A-State. Not so much this year. This will be a huge test for UL-Lafayette’s new-look defense: The Red Wolves can score quickly and often. This Tuesday night game could be a defining moment in the Sun Belt.

GAME 7: Louisiana-Monroe

WHEN: TBA Oct. 31

WHERE: Cajun Field

TV: TBA

Early storyline

Head coach Todd Berry takes over the play-calling and could not do worse than last year, when ULM was abysmal on the ground and inconsistent through the air. The pressure’s on the defense and, fortunately for the Warhawks, that unit is as good as anyone in the league.

History with Louisiana-Lafayette

The teams enter their second half-century with UL-Lafayette leading 26-24. The Cajuns have won six of the past seven, holding off the Warhawks 34-27 last year.

Threat level

LOW: ULM had too many offensive holes in last year’s 4-8 season, and this year doesn’t look any more promising. The Warhawks had minus-39 rushing yards in last year’s Cajuns win, and huge questions remain in the backfield. ULM’s hopes lie with low-scoring games; that may be realistic with the Cajuns and other league teams facing offensive questions.

GAME 8: at Georgia State

WHEN: TBA Nov. 7

WHERE: Georgia Dome, Atlanta

TV: TBA

Early storyline

Coach Trent Miles’ decision to play nearly two dozen freshmen two years ago could pay off this season. The talents of QB Nick Arbuckle and his WR corps should be enough to better last year’s 1-11 mark, but the real improvement needs to come defensively: The Panthers gave up more than 43 points per game.

History with Louisiana-Lafayette

The Cajuns have won both meetings since GSU joined the Sun Belt, but both were tougher than expected. Terrance Broadway had to throw four TD passes in the 2013 game (which was tied at 21 in the second half), and the Panthers led until the final four minutes last year before a Broadway pass to Jamal Robinson provided a 34-31 final margin.

Threat level

LOW: Four of the Panthers’ losses were by single digits in 2014. But GSU is still undersized defensively, can’t afford many injuries and still has no home-field advantage playing in a mostly empty Georgia Dome.

GAME 9: at South Alabama

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Nov. 12

WHERE: Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Ala.

TV: ESPNU

Early storyline

No team benefited more from UAB’s temporary shutdown than the Jaguars, who figure to have former Blazers in several spots, including QB Cody Clements. He solidifies an offense that is the most talented in the program’s brief history. Transfers are key on a defense that has two returning starters.

History with Louisiana-Lafayette

Last year, an anticipated offensive duel became a defensive struggle, with the Cajuns rallying from a 9-3 deficit and scoring their only touchdown with 5:01 left in a 19-9 homecoming win. That gave UL-Lafayette a 2-1 series edge; they fell 30-8 in the only Mobile meeting, a game QB Terrance Broadway missed with an injury.

Threat level

MODERATE: The Jaguars offense could be a tough matchup because of its talent and athleticism. By November, the UAB transfer brigade should blend in more fully, and that could make the Jaguars tough.

GAME 10: New Mexico State

WHEN: TBA Nov. 21

WHERE: Cajun Field

TV: TBA

Early storyline

The Aggies return eight of their top 10 tacklers, and that’s not necessarily a boon since NMSU’s run defense was shredded regularly in 2014 (310 yards per game). QB Tyler Rogers and RB Larry Rose III are potent if they don’t turn the ball over; NMSU was 116th nationally there last year.

History with Louisiana-Lafayette

The Cajuns lead 6-3 in the series after scoring 28 unanswered points and running away 44-16 last year, following a 49-35 win in 2013. But the Aggies controlled the series in their previous Sun Belt stint, winning three of four from 2001 to 2004.

Threat level

MINIMAL: UL-Lafayette dominated the line of scrimmage last year and moved at will for much of that contest despite staying basic offensively. The Cajuns should still be in control offensively, and the Aggies figure to be only marginally better. Unless NMSU can spring big plays, this one shouldn’t be close.

GAME 11: at Appalachian State

WHEN: TBA Nov. 28

WHERE: Kidd Brewer Stadium, Boone, N.C.

TV: TBA

Early storyline

The Mountaineers were the Sun Belt’s best team in the last half of 2014, and they’re the league’s most experienced this year. Their only offensive hole to fill is at one tackle, and QB Taylor Lamb got better by the week. If there is weakness on a defense that allowed fewer than 20 points after midseason, it’s pass coverage. Special teams are a huge question mark.

History with Louisiana-Lafayette

The only previous meeting was last year, and the Cajuns would rather forget the 35-16 home loss that cost them a share of the league title. The Mountaineers held the Cajuns 150 yards below their SBC average.

Threat level

HIGH: Not only did the Cajuns get humbled last year, UL-Lafayette also has to make the trip to hard-to-reach Boone — as do fellow league favorites Georgia Southern and Arkansas State. With that schedule, the Mountaineers could be unbeaten in the Sun Belt entering this game.

GAME 12: Troy

WHEN: TBA Dec. 5

WHERE: Cajun Field

TV: TBA

Early storyline

The Trojans defense was abysmal at times last season. New coach Neal Brown brought back ex-coordinator Vic Koenning, the leader of several solid defenses a decade ago. QB Brandon Silvers is solid, and the Trojans’ veteran-loaded skill positions rarely turn the ball over. The offensive front has to be retooled.

History with Louisiana-Lafayette

The Cajuns lead 11-7 in a streaky series. UL-Lafayette won six meetings before 1952, but Troy won six of the first seven Sun Belt meetings, with few of them close. The Cajuns have won the past four, rallying to win 42-23 at Troy last season.

Threat level

MINIMAL: Brown will have the Trojans back to a competitive level soon, but there are many holes this season. Troy has struggled defensively for two years and has to get better soon to be competitive.