Review: Troy State Trojans vs Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, 12/5/15, 4:05
Final Score: Trojans 41 Ragin’ Cajuns 17; Attendance: 22,264
Weather: Cool and clear, 60’s; Ticket Price: $20 Scalper w/ $30 face; Parking: Free
“You could do worse for an easy afternoon” by Tree
The Ragin Cajuns play at Cajun field in Louisiana Lafayette which is sort of close to Baton Rouge, and healthy drive from either Houston or New Orleans. The stadium is on the small side, but the directions to it are fairly clear. The parking was free, which is a rarity on the college football circuit. I arrived right at kickoff, and it looked like the tailgating lots were right next to the stadium. They did appear to cost a few bucks. For a small school, it appeared to have a respectable tailgating crowd, particularly when you consider that the SEC behemoth LSU is just down the road. I did not buy a ticket in advance because I knew I could get one at the gate. They did do a “Black Friday” promotion at Lafayette a ridiculously low priced four pack, but you had to buy them in person. Lafayette has some good Cajun food for sure, but I couldn’t see blowing a vacation day to get the deal.
As I walked up to the stadium, I was hoping to spot some scalpers, but there were none. I did see an older gentleman waving a couple of tickets. I managed to negotiate him down to $20 which was only $5 less than the gate. In reality, with little haggling, it was more like a transaction. He wasn’t a pro and I didn’t have a lot of options. I think they were 40 yard line, but I never actually sat in my seat. I met my friend Tonya inside the stadium and sat with her during the game as there were plenty of empty seats to choose from. The first thing I noticed when I walked into Cajun Stadium was a beer stand and then another beer stand and then a sign to get my souvenir beer cup at the concession stand. This was a first. There are a few stadiums that sell beer at the games but it is usually the big professional stadiums where college teams share with it with the Pros such as Miami’s Pro Player Stadium. Cajun Stadium easily has the largest variety and sources of alcohol I have ever seen at a college stadium. Having been to Louisiana multiple times, this was no surprise to me. Those folks know how to party and it wasn’t any different here.
It, however, was a drunken mob by any stretch. When part of your drive home routine is to pick up frozen drinks at the drive thru, you tend to be able to handle your booze. In fact, the game had a nice friendly vibe, and the one end of the stadium has a nice grassy hill where patrons, usually families, can spread out blankets and enjoy the game. With the stadium being small, there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. There is a jumbo video screen above the aforementioned grass knoll which was serviceable. I didn’t really see a lot of specific traditions at the game, other than the standard “Another Cajun first down!” I did note that the Cajuns have produced their share of notable pro’s including Jake Delhomme and shut down corner, Ike Taylor. It is not surprising because Louisiana is a hot bed of football talent, so even when the team is having a down year there are going to be some quality players out on the field.
I was at the game in December and it was great weather, 65 and sunny. I had mistakenly gone to an LSU game in September at high noon and had wished I had worn my swim trunks and not much else. The experience cured me of going to any games in the south either during the day or early in the season. This was a 4:05 start and it only got a little chilly at the end of the game. I can’t remember what the concessions were like at the game, because the cheap and plentiful beer made my note taking end with the start of the second half. I do recall getting a burrito from Bucee’s (a Texas truck stop extraordinaire) on the drive over. It haunted me the whole game, so I am pretty sure I didn’t eat anything. I did get a souvenir soda cup in the second half and managed to snag a Ragin’ Cajun t-shirt for only $10.
Since I was sitting with Tonya and her friends, I had a great time, but I think that even if I was sitting by myself, the fans would be welcoming. I don’t recall there being a huge student population at the game and I didn’t see any of the guys in ties and girls in pearls (or skimpy cocktail dresses for that matter) that seems to be trending. This was mostly kids in standard comfortable college garb, just enjoying themselves. Of course, being the south, the women to tend to make a little more of an effort than other parts of the country. It is not an objectionable trait.
Lafayette is about two hours from New Orleans and three hours to Houston, pretty much all of it on I-10. You could fly into Baton Rogue to cut the drive down to an hour, but that airport isn’t exactly a major hub. I would rather take the road. After all, it is just a short turn off of the freeway to get to the stadium.
Both Troy State and Louisiana Lafayette limped into this final game of the season below 500, but oddly enough, each had a chance to make a bowl game with a win. It speaks volumes to how there are way too many bowls in college football these days. I guess it is appropriate since these kids came up in the “Everyone gets a trophy” era of youth sports. Mediocrity America – Embrace It. Nonetheless, I was hoping that this might drive a highly competitive game between two well matched teams. For the majority of the time, it was not. Troy had four possessions of two and half minutes or less in the first quarter! It was 24-0 before I knew it. The Ragin Cajuns did manage a comeback of sorts. They managed to cut the lead to 24 – 10 at the half, I thought that they might have a chance if they could stop giving up ball and the big plays.
The Cajuns did manage to take the opening drive down and score. It was now 24 – 17 and it looked like we might actually have a ballgame. The Trojans were up to the task and drove down the field on the following kickoff to go up by 14. The Cajuns then went back to their old ways, promptly fumbling twice to lead to two more scores to put the game away at 41 – 17 at the end of the third quarter. Ultimately, it was Lafayette coughing up the ball with three fumbles and one interception that doomed them. They were dropping it like it was hot and not in a good way. Mercifully, the fourth quarter was a scoreless period and the game ended with no more bloodshed for the Cajuns.
My experience watching the Ragin’ Cajuns could be likened to New York Avenue versus Boardwalk in Monopoly. The total payout is not as big, but the value for money sure is. Catching the Cajun’s play on lazy, late Autumn weekend is time well spent especially if you can do it with good friends, sitting in sun, chilling with a cold beer.