After upsetting then-No. 25 Iowa State 31-14 in its ESPN-televised 2020 season opener Saturday in Ames, Iowa, UL was ranked No. 21 in the Amway Coaches Poll released Sunday.
Coach Billy Napier’s Ragin’ Cajuns also appear at No. 19 in the AP writers poll, released later Sunday.
The two national rankings are the first in football for the Cajuns, known at the time as the Southwestern Louisiana Institute (SLI) Bulldogs, since they were No. 15 in the 1943 AP poll.
But it is the first national ranking for the Sun Belt Conference’s Cajuns in the coaches poll, and their first in either the coaches or the AP writers poll in the modern era of college football.
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The Amway Coaches Poll includes only teams who have played, or are planning to play, games this season, not ones whose season currently is canceled or on hold due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Ditto for the new AP Top 25, whose preseason polls included teams from conferences not playing including the Big Ten and Pac-12.
The Cajuns declined to make Napier available for comment Sunday on the historic ranking for the program.
Appalachian State of the Sun Belt. meanwhile, is ranked No. 23 in the coaches poll. Arkansas State beat Kansas State of the Big 12 on Saturday and Coastal Carolina beat Kansas of the Big 12, and both Sun Belt schools received votes in the coaches poll, but neither cracked the Top 25. Iowa State, also a member of the Big 12, dropped out of the coaches poll Top 25 with its loss to UL.
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The Cyclones also dropped out of the AP poll, which has defending Sun Belt champ Appalachian State, 1-0 after beating Charlotte on Saturday, at No. 24. Arkansas State also received votes in the AP poll, but Coastal Carolina did not.
The Cajuns will put their new national rankings on the line when they open Sun Belt Conference play in an ESPN2-televised game Saturday morning against Georgia State in Atlanta.UL visits Appalachian State on Oct. 7, plays host to Coastal Carolina on Oct. 17 and has Arkansas State at home on Nov. 7.
The Cajuns – or then-Bulldogs – went 5-0-1 including an Oil Bowl win over Arkansas A&M in 1943, when they were coached by Louis Whitman and led by quarterback Alvin Dark, who went on to win a World Series as a player with New York Giants in 1954 and as an MLB manager with the Oakland Athletics in 1974.
Then-SLI’s other World War II-era wins in 1943 – according to UL records – were over Fort Benning, Southwestern (Texas), Lake Charles AAF (75-0) and Randolf (sic) Field. Its tie came in the regular season at home against Arkansas A&M.
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