College Football: Will UL-Lafayette Be the Sun Belt's First-Ever Ranked Team?

Andrew McKillopContributor IIOctober 18, 2011

KNOXVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 03:  Abdule Levier #22 of the Louisiana Lafayette Cajuns rushes against the Tennessee Volunteers during the second quarter at Neyland Stadium on November 3, 2007 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

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.