The UL Ragin’ Cajuns will be heading to the 10th bowl in school history to face Texas-San Antonio in the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl in Dallas on Saturday.
The game is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. on ABC.
"It’s a good day for our team," UL coach Billy Napier said. "We’re excited about the opportunity to play on national television on ABC. Certainly the biggest bowl in the history of our school in terms of payout and exposure. To be outside the inventory of bowls that the Sun Belt Conference plays in makes a statement about the type of season we’ve had."
The bowl appearance, however, comes under a cloud of disappointment and unfilled hopes.
The No. 17-ranked Cajuns (9-1) had their chances of competing for a Sun Belt Conference championship taken away by COVID-19 issues from Coastal Carolina.
"You felt like you lost, but you didn’t the thrill of competing," Napier said. "That’s the kind of way I’d equate it. There’s nothing easy about yesterday. It was a very difficult day. To sit in our homes and watch other teams compete for championships. We were the only league in the country that did not have a conference championship game yesterday and that’s a crying shame."
As it turned out, Cincinnati beat Tulsa 27-24 on a field goal on the final play of the game, so neither Sun Belt team will get the opportunity to play in a New Year’s Day bowl.
While the Cajuns are going to Dallas, the No. 9 Chanticleers — No. 12 in the college football poll — will be headed to the Cure Bowl to play Liberty on Saturday in Orlando, Florida.
The reaction of UL athletic director Bryan Maggard upon learning of the decision to cancel the Sun Belt Conference football championship game …
For the Cajuns, this bowl appearance is the 10th in program history. UL has a 6-3 record on the field in those bowl games, winning one for the first time since 2014 last year with a 27-17 win over Miami of Ohio in the LendingTree Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
"We’re going to get a final opportunity to compete with this group of players and this staff," Napier said. "I think we’ve got to channel some of that emotion that we did have about not having an opportunity to compete for a championship. We’ve got to take that anger and frustration and disappointment and we’ve got to move forward here and use those things as fuel on the fire to get ready to play on the 26th of December.
"What’s happened has happened. We’re going to move forward here and we really look forward to finishing this season in a quality ball game against a really formidable opponent."
The Cajuns lost to Tulane 41-24 in the first bowl game in the Billy Napier era in 2018.
This will be the first meeting between UL and Texas-San Antonio. It'll be the second meeting against a Conference USA team this season — beating UAB on the road 24-20 in Birmingham.
The Roadrunners (7-4) began their season with three wins and finished it with three wins. In the middle section of the season, Texas-San Antonio lost four of five games. The four losses were to BYU, UAB, Army and Florida Atlantic, while the win was 27-26 over Louisiana Tech.
The offense is led by dual threat quarterback Frank Harris, who has run for 437 yards and eight touchdowns and is 146-of-273 passing for 1,422 yards with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Sincere McCormick led the Roadrunners in rushing with 1,345 yards and 11 scores. The two top receivers are Joshua Cephus (53-521, 4 TDs) and Zakhari Franklin (44-579, 6 TDs).
The cancellations of the Central Arkansas and Sun Belt Conference championship game mean the Cajuns won’t have a chance match or surpass last year’s 11-3 record, but UL could record successive double-figure win seasons for the first time in school history.
Perhaps we shouldn’t have been caught off guard so badly.
There are tickets available for fans to attend Saturday's game.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, however, there is no way to select your seats — only the section and price you chose to purchase..
All tickets and parking purchases are only available digitally. All seating will be in pods — either two or four with the majority of socially-distanced pods being four seats. The price ranges are tickets are $25, $50, $75, $100 and $125.
More ticket information is available at firstresponderbowl.com.