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A look at MSU schedule

Jul 19, 2022 08:33AM ● By Jessica Waldrop
By Jim Gazzolo
Special to CBS-Lake Charles

The new football season is just days away but there are lots of questions to be answered in that time for McNeese State.

Quarterback is the biggest as first-year head coach Gary Goff must find somebody to run his high-speed offense. There are also 46 new players and a new coaching staff that must blend together.

But that’s for camp. Here we will take an early look at the upcoming campaign as McNeese tries to bounce back from back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1990.

At Montana State

Sept. 3

Time: 6:05 p.m. (Mountain Time)

The Goff era opens against the defending FCS runner-up Bobcats who were 12-3 last year. The second-ranked team according to the preseason coaches poll fourth by Athlon is led by second-year head coach Brent Vigen.

Like the Cowboys, Montana State hit the transfer portal hard and found a lot of help from the FBS level.

Playoff star Tommy Mellott returns at quarterback. He was injured in the championship loss to North Dakota State. Along with senior tailback Isaiah Ifanse who ran for 1,623 yards last year, the Bobcats will be strong again.

At Rice

Sept. 10

Time: 6:30 p.m.

McNeese will head to Houston for this year’s encounter with an FBS program with the hopes of pulling off an upset.

It will be the first meeting ever between programs and can serve as a realistic test for the Cowboys who are looking to move to Conference USA perhaps one day soon.

Rice, which finished 4-8 last season, is leaving C-USA for the American Conference after this season. With the four wins is the most for the Owls since 2015 this is one of those games that should be on upset alert.

Alcorn State

Sept. 17

Time: 7 p.m.

For the first time since 2019 the Cowboys will host a night game. After being forced to play at noon the last two season, lights return to Cowboy Stadium for this game against the Braves.

McNeese is 4-0 all-time against Alcorn State, outscoring the Braves 146-67 in those games. All the meetings have come since 2020.

The Cowboys will enter the game having lost each of their last two home openers during the daytime.

Mississippi College

Sept. 24

Time: 7 p.m.

Don’t look now but here comes another Division II program. The last time that happened West Florida opened 2021 by shocking the Cowboys 42-36. 

McNeese holds a 3-0 record against the Choctaws but the two haven’t played since 2015. The Cowboys won the first meeting in 1988 by a 6-2 margin in a torrential storm.

Expect the score to be much higher this time around with Goff’s offense proclaiming it will “fire the cannon” often this season.

At Incarnate Word

Oct. 1

Time: TBA

During the two seasons of 2021, the Cardinals beat McNeese twice by a combine 79-20 score. However, the Cowboys won the third and final meeting in Lake Charles, 28-20.

That was UIW’s only loss in the Southland, as they went on to win the first conference title in program history.

However, quarterback Cameron Ward is gone, replaced by former LSU and Nicholls signal caller Lindsey Scott Jr. There will be a new coach on the sidelines as well for the Cards, who almost left for the WAC in the offseason.

Texas A&M-Commerce

Oct. 15

Time: 7 p.m.

McNeese welcomes Commerce for the first time since 1971 when the Cowboys prevailed 47-3. The year before the Lions won 57-26 in Texas.

Those are the only two meetings between the programs so not much can be taken from them. However, they are expected to play a lot in the future as the Lions are entering the Southland this season as part of moving up from the Division II level.

So McNeese would like to make a statement against their new SLC foes but the Lions would also like to send a message.

At Nicholls

Oct. 22

Time: 3 p.m.

A lot has changed since the last time these teams met last fall in the Colonels’ 24-14 victory in Lake Charles.

Both teams will have new starting quarterbacks as McNeese’s Cody Orgeron graduated and Nicholls’ Lindsey Scott, a one time LSU prospect, transferred to Incarnate Word.

McNeese leads the series 32-14 and is 15-6 at Guidry Stadium. But like much of the conference there are more questions than answers with all the roster changes for this one. So this rivalry will get a fresh start.

Southeastern Louisiana

Oct. 29

Time: 7 p.m.

Three times in 2021 the two teams met and the Lions won each of them. However, every one of those games came down to the final drive with McNeese having a chance at victory.

This is quickly becoming an intense game between the two fan bases and programs, but both teams have lots of changes from last year on their rosters. And both will be starting new quarterbacks.

Still, this game is the first of four straight at home for the Cowboys to end the regular campaign.

Eastern Illinois

Nov. 5

Time: 7 p.m.

This game is part of the scheduling alliance between the Southland and Ohio Valley Conference.

The two teams have met twice before with McNeese winning both times. The last meeting came in 1993 at Cowboy Stadium and ended in a 49-7 McNeese victory.

Three years earlier McNeese won in Charleston, Illinois 15-7. Eastern finished just 1-10 last fall and the Panthers are still considered to be in the rebuilding process.

At Houston Baptist

Nov. 12

Time: 2 p.m.

McNeese hits the road for the final time of the regular season for a game at HBU.

The Cowboys are 4-0 against the Huskies all-time including winning 44-3 last Nov. 13th. That was McNeese’s best game of the season by far.

McNeese holds a 12-0 record against its first five opponents this season. The Huskies are looking to rebound from an 0-11 seasons.


Nov. 19

Time: 7 p.m. 

The Battle for the Border is back.

Lamar, gone from the SLC for just one season returns with a winning streak against the Cowboys.

This is the one game (outside of Louisiana-Lafayette) that McNeese fans really get fired up for. Separated by just one hour, the two schools are natural rivals, with both community and state bragging rights at stake each time they play.

Both teams are rebuilding with Lamar coming off a 2-9 season in its only year in the Western Athletic Conference.

So important was this game to the two schools that they had agreed to play even when the Cardinals left the league. Now they don’t have to wait.