McNeese releases football schedule — including trip to play Florida Gators

Published 1:41 pm Monday, February 6, 2023

A trip to the Swamp highlights the upcoming football schedule for McNeese State.

For the first time in program history the Cowboys will play the Florida Gators when they head to Gainesville on Sept. 9. 

The Gators are just the second SEC team McNeese has ever played. The Cowboys have played both Texas A&M (Southwest) and Missouri (Big 12) before they were in the SEC.

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“It will be a great challenge but a lot of fun to play in that environment,” said McNeese head coach Gary Goff. “Not many people get to play there.”

That trip highlights a season which features all 11 games being played against Division I opponents. Five of those games will be played inside Cowboy Stadium. 

The school released the 2023 schedule Monday.

“Overall I like the schedule,” said Goff. “It has its challenges for sure, but I think it sets up nicely for us.”

Unlike last year when McNeese opened the season with a pair of games on the road to begin Goff’s tenure, this year the Pokes start at home. 

The Cowboys open the season on Sept. 2 with a game against Tarleton State out of the Western Athletic Conference. 

“It’s great to start at home,” said Goff. “We will have a brand new team and are excited to show our home fans this group.”

McNeese is 2-0 all time against the Texans, including a dramatic 40-37 double overtime victory on Feb. 13, 2021. The Pokes scored 14 points in the final 2:46 of regulation to force the overtimes in the first spring college football game played by either team.

Florida in Week 2 starts a three-game road trip for the Cowboys. First up is Alcorn State in Week 3 on Sept. 16. The Braves beat McNeese 30-19 for the first time in five tries last year.

The road trip ends with a game against Eastern Illinois on Sept. 23. McNeese is 3-0 against the Ohio Valley foe, including a 29-15 victory last Nov. in Lake Charles. 

“We are going to have to be road warriors,” said Goff. “It is not ideal to have three straight road games so early but at least we get them out of the way.”

The final seven games of the season will all be against Southland Conference teams. Nicholls will be first up with a Sept. 30 game at Cowboy Stadium.

McNeese will follow with a trip to Texas A&M-Commerce on Oct. 7 before an open date. Following the bye week, the Cowboys will have back-to-back home games against Incarnate Word (Oct. 21) and Northwestern State (Oct. 28) for homecoming. 

That game will mark the return of the Demons back on the McNeese ledger after a one year absence due to a quirk in the SLC schedule.

A November 4 trip to Southeastern will precede the home finale versus on Houston Christian on Nov. 11. The regular season will conclude on Nov. 18 at Lamar.

McNeese finished just 4-7 overall last season, the third straight losing campaign. However, the Pokes did finish with three straight wins and a 2-4 conference record.

“When we get closer to the season we will talk about the winning streak and keeping it going,” Goff said. “Right now it has helped build momentum in the offseason.”

Goff and his staff have signed 33 newcomers to the roster and will begin spring practice on March 8. The spring game is set for April 1.