LAFAYETTE — The Louisiana-Lafayette football team can now add a date next to a name for the 2016 season.
Outside of the nonconference opponents, whom the Cajuns schedule themselves, the only thing the Cajuns knew about their 2016 conference schedule was who they were going to play. After the Sun Belt Conference released the full schedule Thursday, they now know when they’ll play them.
The Cajuns will open the Sun Belt portion of their schedule with a home game against South Alabama on Sept. 17 — their first September SBC game since 2012 — meaning they will play their first three games of the season at Cajun Field.
The Cajuns will play half their games at home for the third straight season.
“It’s a great home schedule, obviously with Boise State coming to town in the opener,” coach Mark Hudspeth said in a statement. “It’s a very challenging schedule, one of the toughest schedules I think we’ve had in awhile. We have one of the top FCS programs in the country (McNeese State) coming to Cajun Field, and we’re excited to have some games that our fans will be able to travel to with games at Tulane and Georgia.
“With three straight home games to open the season, plus our first road game at Tulane, it’s a great chance to get our fans behind us early and it’s a great chance to come out of the blocks with some momentum.”
The Cajuns will only play one midweek game this season after playing in two in each of the past two seasons. This time it will come at home Oct. 12 in a nationally televised game against Appalachian State.
The final month of the season will be difficult.
It starts with the first meeting between the Cajuns and Georgia Southern, which has gone 14-2 against Sun Belt competition in its first two years at the FBS level. That game will be on the road.
The Cajuns will make a return trip the following week to face perennial Southeastern Conference power Georgia for their final nonconference game of the regular season.
They will follow that with a home game against defending SBC champion Arkansas State before heading to face rival UL-Monroe on the road to close the season.
As was known before Thursday’s schedule release, the Cajuns will welcome Boise State to Cajun Field for the season opener on Sept. 3, then follow with a game against McNeese State. They will then travel to Tulane Sept. 24 before they begin conference play in earnest.
The Boise State game is the back end of a home-and-home series between the teams. The Broncos won the first meeting 34-9 in 2014.
Sept. 3 — Boise State
Sept. 10 — McNeese State
Sept. 17 — South Alabama*
Sept. 24 — at Tulane
Oct. 1 — at New Mexico State*
Oct. 12 — Appalachian State
Oct. 22 — at Texas State*
Nov. 5 — Idaho*
Nov. 12 — at Georgia Southern
Nov. 19 — at Georgia
Nov. 26 — Arkansas State*
Dec. 3 — at UL-Monroe*
StrokeStyle/$ID/ThickThick*Sun Belt Conference game