BEAUMONT, Texas – The final week of the regular season is a special time on the calendar every season as rivalry week has set in on the Lamar University campus. A date that is circled on the calendar by fans as soon as the schedule is released is now just two days away as the Cardinals prepare to host McNeese Saturday afternoon. Saturday’s renewal of the rivalry game will be the first for many players on the LU sideline.
Saturday’s contest will mark two teams currently headed in opposite directions as the Cardinals (2-8/1-7 Southland) look to close the season on a high note after their come-from-behind victory last week over Houston Baptist, while McNeese is fighting for a spot in the NCAA FCS Playoffs.
The Cardinals enter the week in a two-way tie for ninth (Incarnate Word) just a game back of Abilene Christian in the standings. McNeese is alone in fourth and still has a shot at finishing the year in at least a three-way tie for second in the conference standings. For that to happen the Cowboys (8-2/6-2 SLC) would need a win Saturday and for Sam Houston and Nicholls to lose their regular-season finales.
Big Red would like nothing better than to play potential spoiler to the Cowboys postseason hopes. LU would like to turn last week’s victory into a minor win streak to end the season, but it won’t be easy. The Cowboys enter the contest with the league’s top-ranked defense. McNeese leads the Southland in scoring, total and rush defense, while the Cardinals are second in pass defense.
The Cardinals are coming off their best defensive performance of the season last week at Houston Baptist. The Huskies scored only 16 points against LU, including a 58-yard field goal. Of the 16 points, 13 came from two LU turnovers in the opening half.
The Cardinals have struggled in the all-time series against McNeese. LU trails in the all-time series, 9-25-1 (.271), which includes a 4-14-1 (.237) mark in Beaumont. The Cardinals have dropped two straight in the series and six of the last seven meetings, with the lone victory coming during the 2014 season in Lake Charles. Dating back to the 1983 campaign, LU has dropped 12 of the past 14 meetings. The series dates back to the 1951 season.
Saturday’s contest will be a special day for more than just rivalry week. It will also be the final time for the Class of 2017 to suit up in the Red and White uniform. The class of 2017 consists of 11 seniors who will be honored prior to Saturday’s contest.
The Cardinals’ senior class includes quarterback Andrew Allen, defensive back Jaylon Bowden, wide receiver Marcus Daggs, defensive linemen Donovon Jackson, quarterback Blake McKenzie, defensive back William McVay, defensive end Manasseh Miles, center Matthew Oubre, wide receiver Matt Tillett, offensive linemen Connor Ward and running back James White.