For the first time in the 11-year history of the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, a Louisiana team is headed to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The University of Louisiana-Lafayette, which has not played in a bowl game since 1970, will receive and accept an invitation Monday evening for the Dec. 17 game against an opponent to be determined from Conference USA.
While university officials stopped short of announcing a trip to the Crescent City on Saturday, it issued a media advisory for what it calls a "bowl invitation pep rally" at 5 p.m. Monday inside the Leon Moncla Indoor Practice Facility. That came just hours after Arkansas State accepted an invitation to the Sun Belt Conference's only other guaranteed bowl destination.
"This is a tremendous day for the Ragin' Cajuns and our football program," Louisiana-Lafayette athletic director Scott Farmer told SportsNOLA.com Saturday night. "I think it's one of the biggest days in the history of our athletic department. It's a great testament to our fans who have been with us for the past 41 years. It's been so long, and there are a lot of people who have put a lot of sweat and a lot of tears into making this day happen."
Entering Saturday, only two Sun Belt teams had assured themselves of bowl eligibility â€“ the Ragin' Cajuns, who are 8-3 and were off Saturday, and Arkansas State, who improved to 9-2 and 7-0 in Sun Belt play with a 45-19 victory at Middle Tennessee on Saturday. Following the game, the Red Wolves accepted an invitation to the GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile, the league's only other guaranteed bowl berth.
Farmer said that nearly 6,000 reservations for bowl tickets had been accepted by the university's athletic ticket office at $30 per ticket. "Monday we're going to start getting in touch with those people," he said. "We're anticipating a huge influx of ticket sales beginning Monday."
It's likely the Cajuns will not find out their opponent for at least another week, if not longer, but that didn't seem to matter to Farmer.
"We're just excited to go to a bowl," he said. "We'll line up and play whoever's on the other side."
Louisiana-Lafayette has played in just two bowl games in its history, none at the FBS level. It defeated Arkansas A&M in the 1943 Oil Bowl and lost to Tennessee State in the 1970 Grantland Rice Bowl.
ULL will finish its regular season next Saturday at Arizona.
Dan McDonald and Lenny Vangilder contributed to this report.
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