Cajuns add Big 12 member Iowa State to schedule

Tim Buckley
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

Published 7:51 PM EDT Aug 12, 2020

UL has replaced its canceled non-conference home game against Wyoming of the Mountain West with a Sept. 12 game at Iowa State of the Big 12.

The Ragin’ Cajuns officially lost the Wyoming game, which has been planned for the same day, after the Mountain West decided late Monday to not play football this fall because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Big 12 has decided it will play a nine-game conference schedule with one non-conference game per team, while the Sun Belt Conference – to which UL belongs – plans to play an eight-game league schedule with SBC teams permitted up to four non-conference games.

The meeting between the Cajuns and the Cyclones will be the first between the two programs and it will mark UL’s first game against a Big 12 opponent since it lost Sept. 7, 2013, at Kansas State.

The game will be the first of the season for Iowa State, which is not scheduled to open Big 12 play until Sept. 26 at TCU.

Related: UL loses second non-conference game amid COVID-19

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The Cyclones lost previously scheduled non-conference games against South Dakota, Ball State and UNLV.

The game is slated to be the second of the season for UL, which currently is scheduled to open on Sept. 5 at Cajun Field against McNeese of the FCS Southland Conference.

But that could change if the Southland opts not to shut down for the fall.

UL also currently has a non-conference game scheduled for Oct. 24 at FBS independent New Mexico State, but that game could be lost as well as the Aggies currently have had eight games canceled.

The Cajuns also lost their scheduled Nov. 21 game at Missouri of the SEC, which is playing a 10-game conference-only schedule.

They have not yet named a make-up opponent for that date.

UL was to have been paid $1.3 million for the Missouri game. Financial terms of the Iowa State game were not immediately disclosed.

More: SEC schedule decision could prove costly for the Cajuns

Related: UL players adamant about desire to play football season

All the changes have not made things easy for the Cajuns, who also lost 12 of their 15 spring practices to the coronavirus crisis.

“All of summer planning and offseason planning and research is in the place for the opponents that are left on our schedule, and that’s very much a fluid situation, right?” UL head coach Billy Napier said Wednesday.

Napier said he is updated daily on the schedule situation by Cajuns athletic director Bryan Maggard.

“We continue to work hard on developing our 12-game schedule,” Napier said early Wednesday afternoon, before the Iowa State game was publicly announced, “and, as we speak, I think we anticipate playing McNeese.

“But I think there’s gonna be adjustment that comes with that, right? I think as we see some leagues bow out, and we see some leagues to make a commitment to continue to work toward playing, there will adjustment there, and certainly we’ll just set our sails and adjust to the wind as we go.”

Maggard has declined to comment on the schedule changes so far this week.

More: COVID-19 concerns cloud start of UL preseason camp

UL’s addition of the Iowa State game comes as other Sun Belt teams also scramble to fill to their schedules with the Big Ten, Pac-12, MAC and  Mountain West all deciding to play in the fall.

Arkansas State announced this week that it will visit Kansas State, Georgia Southern announced plans to play Army and on Wednesday Appalachian State (which lost all of its non-conference games) reportedly added Charlotte.

Among other Sun Belt changes, Arkansas State replaced Michigan with Central Arkansas, UL Monroe added Louisiana Tech (on Nov. 21) and Troy (which lost games against Tennessee and North Carolina State) plans to play Middle Tennessee twice this season.

Napier suggested he is encouraged by the prospects for actually playing this year.

“Much you like you hear out there,” he said, “as long as we can get a majority to play, you know, I think the Sun Belt Conference intends to play.”

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Napier suggested there is a spirited camp battle for the No. 2 quarterback job behind starter Levi Lewis, with last season’s top backup, juco-transfer Jaiave Magalei, and redshirt freshman Chandler Fields getting “about the same number of reps with the 2s and the 3s” and redshirt freshman Clifton McDowell continuing “to get some reps with the 3s.”

“So we very much have a competition on our hand,” he said Wednesday.

“Jaiave certainly came in a little bit ahead because of being the backup last year, but I do think there’s some competition there and what we do and see going forward will affect that competition.”

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Napier said juco-transfer linebacker Jasper Williams has a “lower body injury” and is “about a week away” from being able to full participate. … Freshman receiver Reginald Johnson is out with a hamstring injury and that freshman tight end Christian Sabatini is still out with an undisclosed injury, Napier also said. … According to Napier redshirt freshman Amir McDaniel has been working throughout preseason camp at receiver, the position the former defensive back moved to prior to spring practice.

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