It feels like just a couple of weeks ago, quarterback Ben Wooldridge was leading the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns to a dominant Week 1 stomping of Northwestern State to kick off another exciting college football season.
As with every football season, you blink twice only to see that the year is almost finished and bowl season is right around the corner. The annual discussion of potential bowl matchups ensues. After their most recent defeat on the road against Arkansas State in Week 10, the Ragin’ Cajuns currently sit at 5–4 overall, one win shy of becoming bowl eligible for the sixth consecutive season.
Louisiana will have to win at least one of their final three games – Week 11 vs. Southern Miss, Week 12 at Troy, or Week 13 vs. UL Monroe – to see the postseason in 2023, as competing for the Sun Belt Conference championship seems highly unlikely.
On the bright side for the Ragin’ Cajuns, the Sun Belt Conference likely will see more postseason bids than usual.
Conference USA and the American Athletic Conference are severely lacking in projected bowl-eligible teams.
Meanwhile, the SBC has a multitude of teams likely to be bowl eligible, which doesn’t even include the best team in the conference due to a senseless NCAA bylaw.
The SBC has automatic placements in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl and the 68 Ventures Bowl along with placements in three of the eight ESPN Events owned bowl games.
ESPN may opt to select more SBC teams due to lack of eligible teams from other conferences in favor of geographical matchups and ratings.
All this in mind, here are five potential bowl matchups for the Ragin’ Cajuns ahead of December.
Louisiana vs. New Mexico State Aggies (R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, New Orleans, LA): Louisiana has found a second home in New Orleans with their history in the New Orleans Bowl.
Not including the two sanctioned victories, the Ragin’ Cajuns are 3–1 in New Orleans Bowl appearances.
One dual-threat quarterback Zeon Chriss faces another in New Mexico State starter Diego Pavia, who ranks third in C-USA in total offensive yards.
The Ragin’ Cajuns Sun Belt-leading pass rush will rear back and face a team who is among the top five in C-USA in sacks allowed.Louisiana vs. Liberty Flames (68 Ventures Bowl, Mobile, AL): The Ragin’ Cajuns battling the Flames makes for a scorching matchup.
Chriss, wideout Peter LeBlanc, and the Louisiana offense faces the team that leads the nation in interceptions, while two prolific tailbacks go head-to-head in Jacob Kibodi of the Ragin’ Cajuns and Quinton Cooley of the Flames.
Louisiana vs. South Florida Bulls (Myrtle Beach Bowl, Myrtle Beach, SC): The Ragin’ Cajuns go from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Coast to face an AAC foe.
In a battle of true-freshman quarterbacks, Louisiana’s Chriss will go shot-for-shot with South Florida’s Byrum Brown, who has amassed over 2,000 yards through the air and over 600 yards on the ground.
Louisiana vs. SMU Mustangs (Scooter’s Coffee Frisco Bowl, Frisco, TX): Michael Desormeaux and company travel about 400 miles west for a matchup between two second-year head coaches.
Desormeaux, in his second season as head coach of Louisiana, leads his unit against Rhett Lashlee, who is also in year two of his stint as the Mustangs’ head coach.
Louisiana vs. Rice Owls (Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, Fort Worth, TX): With the Sun Belt having to step in due to lack of eligible teams, Louisiana gets an opportunity to break out their patriotic black uniforms again.
Rice also gets in due to a technicality here, as their academic progress rate ranking places them in a high priority with not enough bowl-eligible schools.
Chriss, LeBlanc, Kibodi, and the rest of the Ragin’ Cajuns go toe-to-toe with the Owls dynamic tandem of quarterback JT Daniels and wideout Luke McCaffrey, younger brother of San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey.
No matter where the Ragin’ Cajuns are placed this bowl season, the team will get to compete in a new environment and fans will get to see a unique matchup that isn’t always possible during the regular season.