Les Miles and the LSU Tigers are rolling toward a potential berth in the BCS Championship game, piling up blowout victories and collecting national headlines every step of the way.
It’s easy to forget they aren’t the only team in Louisiana making waves this college football season.
Most notably, Louisiana Tech and Louisiana-Lafayette have designs on joining LSU in leaving home for the holidays.
Tech, which faces Nevada on Saturday in a game that will probably determine who wins the Western Athletic Conference title, became bowl eligible last week in a 20-point blowout of Ole Miss. ULL done with its Sun Belt Conference schedule, awaits a likely bid from the New Orleans Bowl that could come as early as Monday.
If the Bulldogs and Cajuns follow LSU into the postseason as expected, it will mark the first time three teams from Louisiana have represented the state in bowl games since 1979, when LSU played Wake Forest in the Tangerine Bowl, McNeese State met Syracuse in the Independence Bowl and Tulane faced Penn State in the Liberty Bowl.
LSU, set to make its 43rd appearance in a bowl game, has been ranked atop the BCS ever since the standings were first announced.
The Tigers (10-0) will certainly play for a national title in New Orleans on Jan. 9 if they win out. Even one loss down the stretch wouldn’t necessarily eliminate them from title contention.
Tech looked like one of the best teams that couldn’t close games early, losing to Southern Miss by two and Houston by one and falling to Mississippi State in overtime.
The Bulldogs (6-4) now find themselves riding a five-game winning streak as they head to Nevada. If Tech win the the WAC title, it will more than likely earn a spot in the Poinsettia Bowl. Even if they lose, they will still be a strong candidate for several other bowl games, including the Hawaii, the Famous Idaho Potato and the Independence bowls.
Having played in three bowl games since 1990, Tech’s position as a postseason contender this year is no huge surprise.
The big story has unfolded near the foot of Interstate 49, where first-year ULL coach Mark Hudsepth has the Cajuns (8-3) positioned third in the Sun Belt entering next week’s regular-season finale at Arizona. ULL and its fans will likely have to travel only a couple of hours to make their first bowl appearance in 41 years. The New Orleans Bowl generally takes the Sun Belt champion, but is required to do so only two out of four years.
If Arkansas State beats Middle Tennessee this weekend to wrap up the Sun Belt title, it’s expected the GoDaddy.com Bowl will invite the Red Wolves and the New Orleans Bowl will get ULL.
So stay tuned. LSU’s national title chase isn’t the only source of intrigue these days. In a season that will end with Louisiana hosting the biggest college football game of the year, teams in Ruston and Lafayette are representing the state nearly as well.