College Football: Will UL-Lafayette Be the Sun Belt's First-Ever Ranked Team?
Believe it or not, Louisiana-Lafayette of the Sun Belt Conference is bowl eligible. The Ragin' Cajuns have won six straight, and the most difficult opponent left on their schedule is lowly Arizona (1-5). The Sun Belt Conference has never had a ranked team in the 11 years they have sponsored football, but UL-Lafayette is knocking on the door.
UL-Lafayette still has some challenges left.
To close out their conference schedule, they go to Jonesboro to face Arkansas State (4-2). The Red Wolves are currently undefeated in Sun Belt play, and for a team at their level, they had respectable performances against Illinois (a 33-15 loss) and Virginia Tech (26-7 loss).
Then, to close their regular season, they go to Tucson to face Arizona. Although Arizona is struggling, UL-Lafayette doesn't have the caliber of talent that Arizona has, and the game will be a considerable challenge.
The rest of their schedule features Western Kentucky (2-4) and Middle Tennessee (1-4) on the road, then they host in-state rival UL-Monroe (2-4).
UL-Lafayette's lone loss this season was to then-no. 9 Oklahoma State. They were crushed 61-34, but perhaps the pollsters will give them credit for the 34 points they scored against a top 10 opponent.
To finish the season ranked, I believe UL-Lafayette will have to sweep the Sun Belt and win their bowl game. If they do those two things, they are guaranteed a record of at least 11-2.
The pollsters have kept 11-win teams out of the polls in the past, but that was before they expanded to their current 25-team format.
It's worth mentioning that UL-Lafayette had close games against Kent State (20-12 win) and Florida Atlantic (37-34 win), two teams with only one win between them. Those games certainly won't impress the pollsters.
But the bottom line is that if UL-Lafayette goes 11-2 with a bowl win, on the surface, their season's resume will sure look glossy to the pollsters.
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