So, McNeese, how do you like your Cowboys now?
And who saw that coming?
Nothing quite like having a hardy band of die-hards showing up at Cowboy Stadium expecting the worst for McNeese's last home game of this strange and abbreviated spring season … and then shocking them with an upset.
Funny, but it didn't look like an upset.
McNeese 43, Nicholls 31, I guess it was.
Crazy thing. It looked like the best team won.
And maybe that's the real upset here.
Nicholls was ranked No. 13. Nobody going in had to wonder what the Cowboys were ranked. They'd been somewhat rank, in fact, in two other home games, nowhere near the rankings, now with a 3-3 record.
The Cowboys aren't even eligible for the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs if they wanted to go. Why break a sweat for little more than pride? That was the barbershop talk.
The Cowboys did get a reminder of what a playoff teams looks like with Nicholls and showed they might belong.
If Nicholls isn't in this spring's watered-down 16-team FCS playoffs, it will be only because McNeese was the better team Saturday.
Don't try to explain it.
McNeese's other two home shows were an embarrassing 48-20 loss to Incarnate Word before blowing a game late 27-26 to Lamar.
Who'd have thought this last live peak would be any different?
Short answer: This wasn't that team.
Give first-year head coach Frank Wilson some credit for keeping this bunch together and keeping that focus toward a murky goal.
They looked the part.
And if that doesn't make it look like McNeese football is headed in the right direction, I don't know what to tell you.
Never mind that the Cowboys quickly fell behind 14-3 and had most everybody bracing for the Colonels' rat-a-tat-tat offense, which is prone to point-a-minute outbursts, twice this spring topped out at over 70 points.
A crazy thing happened. After a 21-point explosion of its own in the second quarter for a 24-17 halftime lead, McNeese seemed in total control.
Maybe there's your upset.
If you're really thinking you need a big upset, you wouldn't sit on the ball at the end of the second half nursing seven-point lead when you've been beating the Colonels' deep all second quarter.
You just quickly score to open the second half and have precious few anxious moments thereafter.
You play like you expect to win. Maybe the Cowboys were the only ones in town with such a foolhardy notion.
And, keep in mind, that this game supposedly meant nothing for McNeese.
That was the word on the streets anyway, the view of many fans.
This whole spring season the talk has been that, in truth, this was little more than regular spring practice sessions, all with an eye on next fall when the New Normal sort of returns.
McNeese apparently hasn't listened.
Nor was quarterback Cody Orgeron listening to the scuttlebutt that he was neither the current answer nor the future hope at quarterback.
Sure looks a lot more like it now. Saturday he had his way with a true vertical passing game, far more efficient on 20 of 27 throws, but still for a career-high 354 yards and four touchdowns.
It wasn't much different than the 21-7 win over Northwestern State two weeks ago when the Cowboys' passing game first appeared, really.
It certainly helps that his receivers, who were so hit and miss at their craft earlier in the year, didn't have a hint of a dropped ball Saturday, with several out-of-the-ordinary catches.
That's how big plays like connections of 85, 42 and 35 yards come off. Probably also had something to do Deonta McMahon's 67-yard scoring run that was probably the final dagger.
As suspected, this offense operates much better when Orgeron is running hardly at all by design and, better yet, far less for his life.
His dad, Coach O, was in his usual spot standing close watch on the sideline, and probably recognized what was going on.
Ed Orgeron would call it LSU 37, Florida 34 from last December.
Totally out of nowhere, only with no shoe throwing.
That's what this game was for McNeese — real hope for next season.
Maybe even excitement.
It will still take some adjusting. The luxury boxes aren't going to be fixed or replaced by then. The trial run with day games is going to continue as the lights won't be back either.
Still, it looks more and more like Cowboys football could be headed back to something McNeese fans remember from the glory years.
While they're fixing up things for next season, they also might think about installing a port-a-potty on the sidelines for the fall.
You cater to your team leader. Twice immediately after scoring drives Orgeron had to gingerly tiptoe to a secluded spot just beyond the south end of the stands, just out of fans' view (but, perhaps unbeknownst to him, not the prying eyes in the makeshift end zone press box), for a quick potty break, fortunately No. 1.
He was discreet and it didn't seem to fluster him any.
No more than the Colonels did.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU
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