No. 21 Louisiana, Coastal Carolina set for delayed showdown
Louisiana has emerged as the type of Sun Belt Conference team that Coastal Carolina is working to become.
The No. 21 Ragin’ Cajuns (3-0, 2-0 Sun Belt) are ranked for the first time since 1943 as they prepare to host the Chanticleers (3-0, 1-0) on Wednesday night.
The game was postponed four days because of the threat to Louisiana from Hurricane Delta.
The contest figures to be a good measuring stick for both teams.
“It comes with the territory as you start to build a program and develop a team that’s got an identity that people respect on the outside looking in,” Louisiana coach Billy Napier said of the ranking. “It’s a good thing for everyone involved.”
Both teams will be playing on national television for the fourth time in as many games as the Sun Belt continues to receive the spotlight.
The Cajuns jumped into the rankings after opening the season with a 31-14 victory at preseason No. 23 Iowa State. But in a sign that the program and the Sun Belt still have a ways to go in building their reputations nationally, the undefeated Louisiana team is now ranked one spot below the team it beat in the opener.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Louisiana defensive end Andre Jones said. “We can’t do anything about where they put people. We just go out and play football.”
They’ve played it so well that they are the only team from Louisiana that is ranked after defending national champion LSU (1-2) tumbled out of the Top 25 following a 45-41 loss at Missouri last week.
“This is something I dreamed of, really, something everybody on the team dreamed of,” Jones said of the team’s recognition. “We always have been labeled as a smaller school, underrated. We’re going to shock the world now. We’ve just got to keep it going.”
Louisiana defeated the Chanticleers 48-7 last season. But Coastal Carolina, which is in just its fifth season in the FBS and fourth as a full-time member of the Sun Belt, thinks it has narrowed the gap compared to last season.
“That game last year was a huge embarrassment,” linebacker Teddy Gallagher said. “We didn’t step to the plate and we folded a little bit. We’re going into this game expecting to compete with these guys.”
The Chanticleers, who had a 2-6 conference record in each of the past three seasons, have a chance to start 2-0 in the league for the first time.
“That would put us in an unbelievable position,” coach Jamey Chadwell said.
Coastal Carolina has received votes in the AP poll the last two weeks for the first time in the program’s short history.
“It’s always nice to receive votes and get recognition from the outside,” wide receiver Sam Denmark said, “but we don’t allow our heads to get big. We always knew that if we worked hard that would come.”
Chadwell called Louisiana “the most talented team” and “the most complete team” the Chanticleers have faced.
“We’re looking forward to seeing how we stack up against them,” Chadwell added.
Coastal Carolina, which has won each of its games by at least 15 points, like the Cajuns began its season with a road win against a Big 12 team, beating Kansas 38-23.
–Field Level Media