A study of the 2018 football season
The 2018 football season is fast approaching and each summer I try to attack the preview in different ways.
For the next 12 editions I will break down each week of the season for both LSU and Louisiana Lafayette and include other state schools’ best match-ups to watch.
But first, let’s step back and reflect on the 2017 season for the Tigers and Cajuns.
LSU was led by first-year head coach Ed Orgeron after he led the Tigers as interim head coach for the final eight games of 2016.
The Tigers finished 9-4 overall, 6-2 in the SEC and was 16th in the final AP poll.
LSU opened the season with a 27-0 win over Brigham Young in the Texas Kickoff Classic after the game was moved from Houston to New Orleans because of the flooding from Hurricane Harvey.
The Tigers’ home opener against Chattanooga was a 45-10 win, but LSU then lost its SEC opener at Mississippi State (37-7).
A high-scoring 35-26 win over Syracuse was followed by the stunner of the season as the Tigers fell 24-21 to the Troy Univ ersity Trojans.
The fight with Florida for where the game was to be placed seemed to help LSU grab the gusto and a 17-16 win over the Gators.
That momentum contined as the Tigers rolled to wins over Auburn (27-23) and Ole Miss (40-24).
A road trip to Alabama was the Tigers’ chance to move up into the playoff talk, but the Crimson Tide rolled to a 24-10 win.
At 6-3, LSU went on a three-game win streak with victories over Arkansas (33-10), Tennessee (30-10) and Texas A&M (45-21).
The Tigers earned a New Year’s Day bowl as LSU took on Notre Dame in the Citrus Bowl.
The Fighting Irish stunned the Tigers with a 21-17 win.
A nine-win season will be a difficult task for the Tigers in 2018 as there are only five “easy” wins on the schedule.
If LSU only manages six or seven wins, the Tiger faithful will be noisy with their criticism of coach Oregon and his staff.
Louisiana finished the season 5–7, 4–4 in Sun Belt play to finish in a three-way tie for fifth place.
Last Dec. 3, head coach Mark Hudspeth was fire as he finished with a seven-year record of 51–38.
However, due to NCAA sanctions in 2016 his official record was 29–38.
The Cajuns school hired Billy Napier as head coach two weeks after Hudspeth’s departure.
Louisiana opened the season with a 51-48 barn burner over Southeastern Louisana but then fell at Tulsa (66-42) and Texas A&M (45-21).
The Cajuns fell to rivals UL Monroe 56-50 in double overtime, but rebounded for victories over Idaho (21-16) and Texas State (24-7).
Louisiana was demolished at Arkansas State 47-3 on national television but regrouped for a 19-14 win over South Alabama.
A trip to Oxford resulted in a 50-22 loss to Ole Miss, but the Cajuns then earned a 47-34 homecoming win over New Mexico State.
UL closed the season with back-to-back losses to Georgia Southern (34-24) and Appalachain State (63-14).
Napier comes to Louisiana-Lafayette after one season as offensive coordinator at Arizona State.
Napier was the receivers coach at Alabama from 2013-16, the assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach at Colorado State in 2012 and the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Clemson from 2009-10.
In his career, Napier has been a part of two national championships at Alabama in 2011 and 2015 and has coached in 11 bowl games.
As a college player, he was a two-time all-Southern Conference quarterback at Furman, once reaching the Division I-AA national championship game in 2001 against Montana.
Leading the Cajuns to the first Sun Belt Conferernce championship game will prove to be difficult as most experts predict UL to win at most five games this season.
Six wins for LSU would be a disasterous season for the Tiger fans, but six wins for the Cajuns would exceed expectations.