Gilbert era debuts tonight

Southern marches into Cowboy Stadium

It may be the most highly anticipated game in the state of Louisiana this weekend.

The McNeese State versus Southern University football game won’t be the most-attended game, that honor will more than likely go to LSU as the Tigers host Georgia Southern.

But it feels like a big game in every aspect today when Southern travels about 2 hours west on Interstate 10 to face McNeese.

The teams have played once. They were supposed to play a second time, with SU making a return trip to Lake Charles after playing in Baton Rouge in 2004. But Hurricane Katrina wiped out those plans.

McNeese is hoping Southern’s presence will attract a sell-out crowd in an era of declining attendance figures throughout college football. The McNeese attendance record is 20,300, when Southern’s archrival Grambling State visited Cowboy Stadium. That game was played on Aug. 31, 2002.

The Southern University “Human Jukebox” will perform. Lake Charles will be filled with Jaguars fans adding even more blue and gold to the tailgating McNeese fans.

All of this hype for the game, and the players are trying as hard as possible to hear none of it.

“All that’s just really noise,” said Cowboys junior quarterback Cody Orgeron after Wednesday’s practice. “We just block out the noise, put the blinders on, and just come to work every single day.”

Southern has direct connections to McNeese, with head coach Dawson Odums applying for the Cowboys head coaching position when it came open last November. Odums also hired former McNeese assistant coaches Wayne Cordova (safeties) and Charlie Ayro (linebackers) to his staff in the offseason.

Cowboys junior defensive lineman Cody Roscoe isn’t getting caught up in any possible emotions of Codova and Ayro returning on Saturday evening.

“Even though coach Ayro and coach Cordova is somebody we respected here when they coached us,” Roscoe said. “But at the end of the day, we just come out and play football. Those personal relationships don’t really matter when the ball is against you.”

Odums said he thinks the game is big for many reasons.

“One, because it’s the next game we’ve got to play,” Odums said. “But when you start talking about recruiting, you start talking about in-state, we always circle the games we’re going to play in-state because I really think it separates you in recruiting.”

One thing is for certain: a team wearing blue, gold and white will be the winner.””

Sterlin Gilbert, McNeese State head football coach

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