Cowboys not afraid of big boys
When McNeese State travels to play Brigham Young on Saturday, the home Cougars will have more players, more scholarships, more Morman missions, more mountains and more resources.
McNeese will have the knowledge that it has been in this situation before and, for the most part, has never been in awe of playing up to the Football Bowl Subdivision level.
“I don’t ever worry about getting our guys up to play,” McNeese head coach Lance Guidry said Tuesday. “Our guys think they’re going to win. They really do. We as coaches think we’re going to win. We think we’re just as good of coaches as anybody else and our players think they’re just as good of players as anybody else.”
The Cowboys, 3-0 after a 20-10 revenge win over Nicholls State last week, have fared fairly well in the past in so-called “money” games.
They are 8-23-1 all-time against Football Bowl Subdivision teams, and have some notable near misses against some of college football’s biggest names.
BYU is suddenly one of those big names after the 2-1 Cougars, though 4-9 last year, are coming off a major 24-21 upset at No. 6 Wisconsin last Saturday.
It could even shape up as a “trap” game for BYU as it will be traveling to No. 10 Washington next week.
“They have a good football team,” Guidry said of the Cougars. “They’re hot right now and they’re not going to overlook us by any means. (BYU head coach Kalani Sitake) might be telling them about what we did to Nebraska years back. He’ll get his team ready to play for us for sure.”
There are other examples beyond the scare the Cowboys put in Nebraska in 2014 before the Cornhuskers scored a long touchdown in the final seconds to break a tie and survive 31-24.
There was North Carolina in 2008, when the Tar Heels came back with a late 82-yard punt return and a 52-yard touchdown pass to prevail 35-27.
Or Texas A&M in 2001, when the Cowboys led 24-10 before the Aggies rallied late to win 38-24.
“More depth,” Guidry said. “That’s usually where the big teams get you.
“Nebraska, we let them off the hook. We had outplayed them.
“Texas A&M we ran out of gas, cramped up.
“North Carolina, we had a couple of injuries … But that was all three very winnable games for us that we didn’t come away from.”
Guidry admitted that Nebraska was probably looking past the Cowboys.
He doesn’t think that will be the case this week with BYU.
“We’re both coming off of big games in our own rights,” he said. “But, of course, we’re playing up this week and they’re playing down. I don’t think they’ll overlook us. I don’t think their coach is going to allow that to happen. When they watch the film, they’re not going to have to sell it to their players that we have athletes. They’ll be able to see that we do. I think we’ll get their best, I really do.”
He also said he thinks the Cowboys will be loose, with more upside than downside to the trip West.
“It’s a game that we don’t have to win,” he admitted. “We want to win it, but we don’t have to win it. We’re going to prepare to win it. (But) a loss is not going to hurt us in conference play and it’s not going to hurt us in the standings in FCS football.
“But, if you win it, boy, it’d be a big shot in the arm for our program and McNeese and down the line in seeding for the brackets if you’re in the playoffs.
“When you play a big team really, really close or you beat a mid-major against FBS, I think they (the playoff selection committee) take that into consideration.
“I’m smart enough to know that this is lagniappe. It’s extra if we get it done, plus we get a big check.”
McNeese State fullback Dylan Long celebrates after scoring a touchdown against South Florida during the third quarter of an Aug. 31, 2013, game in Tampa, Fla. The Cowboys won 53-21.
McNeese State’s Aaron Sam returns a 98-yard interception for a touchdown in the second quarter against Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb., on Sept. 6, 2014. Nebraska won 31-24.