Schedule 3.0: Lamar’s sudden return forces SLC to make a few more changes

Published 11:00 am Thursday, July 14, 2022

By Jim Gazzolo

Special to the American Press

McNeese State finally has its football schedule set.

After scrambling not once but twice in the last month, Southland Conference officials released the final version Wednesday afternoon.

It is a bit different than the first editions sent out, as both Lamar and Incarnate Word are back in the league after last-second decisions.

McNeese will open league play at UIW and close out at home against Lamar. Originally, the Cowboys were to host Houston Baptist on Oct. 1 and visit TAMU-Commerce on Oct. 15 and Northwestern State on Nov. 19. The Cowboys will not play the Demons this season under the new revision.

“It is great to finally have one and get everything rolling,” McNeese first-year head coach Gary Goff said. “It has been an interesting summer.”

With Media Day just a week away, the league was under the gun to add the two late additions and keep everybody relatively happy.

McNeese will still play six home games overall, three in the Southland. They will also now play four teams who have received votes in preseason national poles.

“It isn’t perfect but when you get a chance to add two teams to your conference and make the conference that much stronger it is a good thing for everybody,” Goff said.

McNeese will also be playing all home games at 7 p.m., returning to its traditional start times. The Pokes haven’t had 7 p.m. kickoffs in a decade.

In future years the league has said conference teams are likely to play all other league schools. Of course that depends on future expansion as well.

Goff knows who and where he will make his Cowboy debut as the first four non-conference games remain the same.

McNeese will open on the road against the second-ranked Montana State on Sept. 3, which lost the Football Championship Subdivision title game to North Dakota State last season.

Incarnate Word, Southeastern Louisiana and Nicholls State also have also received votes in various polls.

UIW is ranked 13th in the coaches poll while SLU is 15th.

“It is a great opportunity for our program to find out just where we are and where we need to get to,” said Goff. “There are a lot of FBS teams that don’t want to go there and play.

“For us, we want to be in those places playing those games.”

McNeese is at Houston in Week 2, taking on Rice for the first time ever. That is McNeese’s Football Bowl Subdivision money game this season.

The next three games are in Lake Charles, with the home opener against Alcorn State on Sept. 17. After that it is a home game on Sept. 24 vs. Division II Mississippi College.

Last fall McNeese opened at home against Division II West Florida and was upset 42-36.

That’s where things begin to turn. McNeese will open SLC on Oct. 1 against defending champ Incarnate Word.

The Cowboys split a pair of games against UIW last season and were the only league school to beat the Cardinals.

A bye week follows before McNeese returns home for a battle with SLC newcomer Texas A&M-Commerce on Oct. 15.

The next two weeks have the Pokes at Nicholls State and then home against Southeastern Louisiana to end October. Like the Cowboys, both of those schools will have new quarterbacks starting from the time they played MSU last fall.

Eastern Illinois is in Lake Charles on Nov. 5 as part of the SLC’s scheduling alliance with the Ohio Valley.

McNeese finishes the regular season with a road game at Houston Baptist and then a home battle against Lamar.

The Lamar game marks the return of the Battle of the Border between the rival schools.

“Overall it is a pretty good schedule,” said Goff. “We have to get to the point though were it doesn’t matter who or where we play. We just want to go out and play.”

The Cowboys will get their chance soon enough.

Date Opponent Time

Sept. 3 at Montana State 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 10 at Rice 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 17 Alcorn State 7 p.m.

Sept. 24 Miss. College 7 p.m.

Oct. 1 at Incarnate Word TBA

Oct. 8 BYE

Oct. 15 Texas A&M-Commerce 7 p.m.

Oct. 22 at Nicholls 3 p.m.

Oct. 29 SE Louisiana (HC) 7 p.m.

Nov. 5 Eastern Illinois 7 p.m.

Nov. 12 at Houston Baptist 2 p.m.

Nov. 19 Lamar* 7 p.m.

All times central