ORLANDO (KATC) – Louisiana football arrived in Orlando Wednesday afternoon, the Cajuns making their first postseason trip outside of the Pelican State.
During his seven year Tenure, now Austin Peay head coach Mark Hudspeth took Louisiana to five bowl games. The New Orleans Bowl, New Orleans Bowl, New Orleans Bowl, New Orleans Bowl, and the New Orleans Bowl. It’s been a one-trick pony so far.
But in 2018, with a new head football coach in Billy Napier, Louisiana is playing out of state, in Orlando, in the Cure Bowl.
“I think it’s real good for this team,” said senior tight end Matt Barnes. “Something to start out this legacy. For a while, everybody was ‘we’re tired of going to New Orleans. Tired of going to New Orleans.’ We didn’t go to New Orleans for a couple of years. We didn’t go to a bowl game or nothing.”
This Cajuns team doesn’t have a ton of experience playing outside of their recruiting footprint. Of the team’s 17 non-conference games (bowl included) since 2015, 15 have been either played at home, in a border state, or in a state where other Sun Belt teams reside. The two outliers are trips to Tulsa in 2017, and Kentucky in 2015.
While Saturday’s game will be played against an in-state opponent, the location falls outside recruiting footprint as defined by Sun Belt conference map and border states.
“I think it’s good for young kids to start out this new era, added Barnes. “Starting it out right with a winning tradition, so they know what it feels like to go to a bowl game. This is the new standard and this is what you strive for.”