(American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 6:57 PM
It is their biggest game of the season, one against a ranked foe with national implications.
This is one worthy of hype, attention and exposure.
The game will be played on campus and under the lights. It will also come with added trimmings.
There will be tailgating, a local star singing the national anthem and a special halftime ceremony.
It’s everything a college football game has to offer.
Yet it will not get all the attention it deserves.
McNeese State will host Central Arkansas in a battle that will go a long way in determining which team is a legitimate Southland Conference title contender and postseason playoff hopeful, and which team’s season is in real trouble with a second league loss.
So why will there be less interest than perhaps should be? Because there is another game, a bigger game, just two hours down the road.
At the same time the Cowboys will be kicking off against Central Arkansas, ninth-ranked LSU will be trying to save its season against No. 3 South Carolina. And that game is on national television and has major BCS implications.
It is not a fair fight, for size matters.
Perhaps nothing else has put a dent into the interest of McNeese football over the recent years than the rise of LSU as a national power. It has only been in the last decade that the Tigers have been a factor when it comes to the national championship race at the top level.
That is also about the time in which McNeese has seen interest in its football program fall. It’s also been during that stretch that the Cowboys have gone without winning a playoff game.
Clearly there are other factors, such as more games on television, the restart of football at Lamar and even the improvement of Louisiana-Lafayette, but it is also obvious that playing in the shadows of one of the nation’s elite is also an issue.
You can’t be in two places at one time, so the local college football fan is forced to decide. It’s a test of loyalties and interests.
When it comes to this battle though, it is easy to pick LSU.
McNeese is the old constant, which means it is often taken for granted. The old reliable car in the driveway never turns as many heads as the shiny new one.
I was going to talk about how we often overlook the wife, but that would probably be too hard to explain at home.
And the Tigers are that shiny new car. Perhaps a slight dent in the front end after last week’s loss, but still they look pretty.
The Cowboys, they are old reliable.
However, this is one time when the little guy might be worth taking a long look at, or that is the hope of McNeese officials who never considered changing the kickoff time from 7 p.m.
They did that last season on the day LSU, ranked No. 1 at the time, played then No. 2 Alabama. McNeese moved its game that day against Nicholls State to the afternoon, but day games have never drawn well in Lake Charles.
With perfect weather expected, Cowboy officials said they will have a good turnout Saturday.
“We are looking forward to a big crowd, our best of the year, I believe,” said Sports Information Director Matthew Bonnette.
He might be right. McNeese fans, the loyal ones, have been waiting a few years for a game like this. But can the Cowboys step out of the shadows of LSU is the real question?
If nothing else, they might be able to step into the spotlight which will be on “American Idol” finalist Josh Ledet.
When up against LSU, the Cowboys can use all the hype they can get.
Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org