Three teams from Louisiana ("The Boot") saw action on Thursday night.
Tulane lost in a thrilling double overtime game on the road to Tulsa 38-31 in their first game in the American Athletic Conference. The Green Wave’s offense was firing on all cylinders, with good performances from redshirt freshman QB Tanner Lee and running back Sherman Badie, who rushed for over 200 yards. Next up for the Green Wave is their home opener and very first game in Yulman Stadium against Georgia Tech.
The ULM Warhawks pulled off an upset against ACC-member Wake Forest on Thursday night, 17-10. This marks the second straight year Louisiana-Monroe has beaten the Demon Deacons and the third straight year they’ve beaten a Power 5 team. ULM will receive a visit from Idaho next Saturday.
In the other Thursday night game, the Demons of Northwestern State jumped out to an early lead over Missouri State but couldn’t fend off a rally from the Bears and fell 27-34. Northwestern State outgained Missouri State, but three costly turnovers did the Demons in.
The 8th ranked McNeese State Cowboys sit this week out before traveling to Lincoln next weekend to open their season against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Cowboys were one of two Louisiana schools to make the FCS playoffs last season and hope to repeat their success this year.
Nicholls State gets the action started for the Boot on Saturday with a trip out to Colorado to play Air Force. The Colonels jumped out to a 4-2 start last year before losing their last six. Former East St. John quarterback Kalen Henderson was named the starter and looks to improve from last year’s injury-shortened season.
The Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech pay a visit to Norman and the #4 Oklahoma Sooners. Tech had a rough season last year, going 4-8 and losing three straight by double digits to end 2013. Iowa-transfer Cody Sokol was recently named the starting quarterback, and he’ll try to improve on the shaky QB play the Bulldogs had last year. Head Coach Skip Holtz leads his team as he goes into his second year in Ruston.
Johnny Manziel was really holding this Texas A&M offense back.
In the year’s first match-up of Louisiana schools, ULL plays host to the Southern Jaguars. The two teams had similar paths last year, finishing 9-4. Southern won the SWAC while ULL won the Sun Belt. The Jags are projected to win their division again, while the Ragin Cajuns have been tabbed to win the Sun Belt. The Cajuns dual-threat quarterback Terrance Broadway is poised for a big season after putting together a good campaign last year and has already garnered recognition on several preseason award lists. ULL Head Coach Mark Hudspeth knows Southern can be a tough foe.
The Grambling State Tigers kick their season off against the Lamar Cardinals. The 2013 season is one the Tigers would like to forget. Grambling went 1-11, including a forfeit after players staged a walkout because of dissatisfaction with the administration and conditions of the facility. Former McNeese State tight ends coach Broderick Fobbs is the the new head coach, and he intends to run an up-tempo offense this season.
#3 Southeastern hosts the Jacksonville Dolphins . The Lions hope to replicate last year’s successful season, in which they went 11-3, and won their first ever Southland Conference title. Quarterback Bryan Bennett is the reigning Southland Conference player of the year after racking up over 4,200 total yards and 37 touchdowns in 2013, and he’s received some national praise.
In the day’s biggest game for the Boot and one of the biggest nationwide, the #13 LSU Tigers take on the #14 Wisconsin Badgers in Houston in a battle of two similar teams. They’re back-to-back in the AP Poll. LSU is expected to play both Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris at quarterback while Wisconsin has had their own QB competition with Tanner McEvoy and Joel Stave. The Tigers have a deep running back corps with returning veterans Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard and the much hyped true freshman Leonard Fournette, who was one of the top recruits in the nation; and Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon is a Heisman candidate and one of the top running backs in the country. The Bayou Bengals have won 45 straight nonconference games, last losing to Virginia Tech in 2002. LSU has done well in neutral site games in Texas before, and Coach Les Miles is excited for match-up.