HAMMOND — During his two-year stay at Oregon, Southeastern Louisiana quarterback Bryan Bennett played in two games during his career that involved Football Championship Subdivision opponents.
Predictably, the high-powered Ducks of the Football Bowl Subdivision proved too much and won those games by an average of 49 points, with Bennett coming in in relief against Tennessee Tech and Missouri State.
For the second time since transferring to Southeastern, Bennett will be on the opposite end of the spectrum, leading No. 3 SLU (2-0) in search of the program’s first victory over an FBS team when the Lions meet Tulane (0-2) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Yulman Stadium.
The game will air online on ESPN3.
“I know from that (Oregon) end you can’t play down to anybody,” Bennett said. “You want to continue to get better as a team. That needs to be the same for us. Outsiders think we’re at the disadvantage. We need to go into it worried about getting better. You have to focus on the team and the things that you can control. That’s what makes a good team great.
“It’s good for our team,” Bennett said. “We have goals where we’re not looking to lose any games no matter who we’re playing. Tulane is a good team, and they’re going to come ready to play.”
SLU has opened its season of heightened expectations with consecutive home wins over Jacksonville (44-3) and Southern Utah (41-14).
The first road test of the season also happens to be the program’s 19th opportunity to play against an FBS opponent against which the Lions, who resurrected their program in 2003, have never won.
“I think it’s very important,” said SLU junior left offensive tackle Aaron Reed, a transfer from Southern Miss. “Coming out with a win over an FBS school, that makes a statement to the rest of the FCS. It makes a big statement. You’re the smaller school and not supposed to be as good and have as much talent. We’re not supposed to win the game.”
SLU’s most recent venture into FBS territory took place last season when No. 24 TCU took down the Lions 38-17.
Tulane’s been responsible for six of the 18 losses SLU has suffered when moving up in class. However, in three of the past four meetings with the Green Wave, the Lions’ margin of defeat has been single digits.
“We’re not scared,” SLU third-year coach Ron Roberts said. “We’re not going to go in there and blink. It’s about us, and we’ve got to go down there and take care of business. If we do that, I think we’ll be in great shape.”
In his two-plus seasons, Roberts has transformed SLU into a Top 25 program.
The Lions returned a veteran team with a solid foundation of 58 letter winners, 14 starters and a total of 13 FBS transfers.
Roberts’ conviction has filtered down to a team with enough talent and depth on both sides of the ball to raise the eyebrows of most observers.
“I think we have a really good chance of winning this game,” Reed said. “We don’t feel like the underdog. We feel like we can compete with just about anybody we go against as long as we execute and do what we’re supposed to do.”
Sophomore starting defensive back Derrick Raymond, an LSU transfer and Metairie native, believes his teammates have been able to keep the game in its proper context and not blow it out of proportion.
“It doesn’t matter who’s the opponent,” Raymond said. “As long as we know our assignments and prepare well, it’s just another game.”