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Game One: Ragin’ Cajuns Play Grambling State for the First Time

Despite both teams being around since the early 20th century, they have never met on the football field. The Cajuns desperately need the first encounter to go their way.

Louisiana Lafayette v Texas A&M Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Matchup: The University of Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns vs. The Grambling State University Tigers

Location: Cajun Field, Lafayette, Louisiana

Date: Saturday, September 1st

Time: 6 PM Local Time (CDT)

Coverage: ESPN3


Outlook

The Ragin’ Cajuns absolutely can not lose this game. With a new head coach trying to turn the program around, starting off the season with a loss to an FCS team could have devastating effects. While it’s unlikely that Louisiana will actually find a way to start off 0-1, you can never fully predict what is going to happen in college football. Discounting Grambling State’s ability to win considering what they bring to the field would be a mistake.

The Tigers have lost only 5 games over the last 3 seasons, compared to the Cajuns’ 7 losses last season alone. Those two stats in no way indicate what will happen on the field, but finding solace only in the fact that the Cajuns are FBS and Grambling is FCS is misguided. The Tigers can, and most likely will, bring it. Louisiana needs to make sure they are taking their prep for this game seriously in order to get the season started on the right note.

It won’t be enough just to beat Grambling. They need to win with authority. They need to control all three phases of the ball and never be in danger of losing the game, even if they only win by a touchdown or two. It’s not going to be perfect, and it would be foolish to hope for that. But, success will have to include both the box score and other intangible factors.

The Cajuns need to come out with a lot of energy and play as a cohesive unit. If they do that, they can hang with any team. Just because Grambling is FCS doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t prepare any less than they will for the Crimson Tide in a few weeks. This game is arguably more important than that game, however, due to the expectations that FBS teams are well-equipped to beat FCS teams.

Unfortunately for the Cajuns, they haven’t been able to get the benefit of the doubt in recent years that they are talented enough to compete regularly in the Sun Belt. A decisive victory over a team that they should beat is a good start. The season isn’t going to be deemed a success or a failure based on this game alone. As we saw from Georgia State last season, you can overcome losing to an FCS team with your first-year head coach and win a bowl game. This game can set the tone for all of the remaining games on the schedule though. It starts here, and it needs to be a strong showing.

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