Thanks to a wild finish last week, the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl and Louisiana-Lafayette are on the verge of renewing their fruitful relationship.
The Ragin’ Cajuns, coming off a 24-19 upset of Arkansas State when a last-minute touchdown by the Red Wolves was overruled by replay, can earn their fifth trip to the New Orleans Bowl in the past six years with a victory Saturday at Louisiana-Monroe, which would make them bowl-eligible, sources said Tuesday.
LAFAYETTE — A wild final play and a replay overturn decided the Louisiana-Lafayette football…
UL-Lafayette (5-6) would most likely meet Southern Miss (6-6), which gained bowl eligibility an 39-24 upset of Louisiana Tech on Friday in the Dec. 17 game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Cajuns played in the New Orleans Bowl in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, winning all four and helping to account for the four largest crowds in the bowl’s 15-year history. That includes a turnout of 54,728 in 2013 for their 24-21 victory against Tulane.
That’s why the New Orleans Bowl, which has the first pick of Sun Belt teams, would take the Cajuns over any of the league’s potential tri-champions, Arkansas State, Troy and Appalachian State, although Arkansas State would get the bid if UL-Lafayette loses Saturday. The Red Wolves lost to Louisiana Tech in last year’s game.
The Cajuns have won seven of their past eight meetings against ULM (4-7), including a 30-24 victory last season.
Victories Saturday by UL-Lafayette and South Alabama (5-6) against New Mexico State would give the Sun Belt a record six bowl-eligible teams. The league previously never had more than four.
“This shows that we’re a maturing conference,” Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson said. “We’ve gone through some pretty significant changes in our membership over the years.
“But now we’ve stabilized, and that has resulted in more depth throughout the league.”
Like UL-Lafayette, Southern Miss, which went 4-4 in Conference USA, would be appearing in its fifth New Orleans Bowl. The Eagles’ last time in the game was a 42-32 loss to Middle Tennessee in the 2009 game.
UL-Lafayette and Southern Miss have played 51 times with USM holding 39-11-1 series advantage. Their last meeting was in 2008 when the Eagles won 51-21.