USA TODAY Sports’ Paul Myerberg breaks down the latest Amway Coaches Poll.
LAFAYETTE, La. — One FBS program from Louisiana is nationally ranked this week, and it is not the one most might expect.
It is Sun Belt Conference member Louisiana Lafayette (3-0), which moved up from No. 23 to No. 21 in the Amway Coaches Poll and the AP Top 25 on Sunday, the same day defending national champion LSU – located about 60 miles to the east – dropped out of both rankings following its 45-41 loss at Missouri.
The Tigers (1-2) had been No. 16.
Reaction to the reality was from the heart for members of a Group of Five team that’s spent decades living in the shadow of its big brother from the SEC.
“I love it,” said Jalen Williams, a starting receiver for the Cajuns who prior to transferring to UL spent the 2016 season as a walk-on redshirt at LSU.
“This is something I dreamed of; really, everybody on the team dreamed of,” starting defensive end Andre Jones added. “We always have been labeled as a smaller school; underrated. We’re gonna shock the world now. We’ve just got to keep it going.”
The Cajuns get a chance to do just that Wednesday night in front of an ESPN audience when they host Coastal Carolina (3-0) in their third Sun Belt game of 2020.
Jalen Williams makes a catch and takes a hard hit from Jav’n Singletary as The Louisiana Ragin Cajuns take down Georgia Southern 20-18 at Cajun Field. Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. (Photo: SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network)
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‘WE JUST … PLAY FOOTBALL’
That UL is ranked in both polls one spot below 3-1 Iowa State – which it beat 31-14 in the season opener for both schools – hardly seemed to matter on a day LSU joined Louisiana Tech and others in a long list of others receiving votes.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Jones said of the Cyclones being No. 20. “We can’t do anything about where they put people. We just go out and play football.”
Which has been the mantra all along for Cajuns coach Billy Napier, who was a bit more reserved than some of his players.
“These are all other people’s opinions,” Napier said. “And that’s nice.
“You know, it comes with the territory as you start to build a program and develop a team that’s got an identity that people respect on the outside looking in. It’s a good thing for everyone involved.”
UL is nationally ranked this season for the first time since 1943, when it made an appearance in the AP Top 20.
The Cajuns broke into the polls this year with their win at then-No. 25 Iowa State, moved up after winning their Sun Belt opener at Georgia