Four Sun Belt Conference schools played in bowl games last season, the most in the conference’s 12 years of football.
Now, it’s time for a member school to accomplish a loftier goal: become the first to earn a national ranking or even better, emerge as the latest midmajor to earn the type of national recognition that propelled Boise State and TCU into the Bowl Championship Series.
At Louisiana-Lafayette, quarterback Terrance Broadway, a former Capitol High standout, said 2013 could be the season.
“I honestly think it could happen this year,” Broadway said Sunday afternoon on the eve of Sun Belt Conference Media Day in New Orleans.
“My team could get that done this year. If we play as a team, like we did at the end of the year, we’re a team that could get it done.”
The strategy, Broadway added, is simple. Focus on the week’s opponent. Forget about the following week’s foe or anything else that takes attention from the game day task at hand.
Accomplish this, he said, and perfection is within reach with the talent on the Cajuns roster.
ULL is coming off a 9-4 campaign, which ended with a 43-34 win against East Carolina in the New Orleans Bowl.
The Cajuns open the 2013 season Aug. 31 at Arkansas, a game which will test their readiness for the national stage. Another road game follows Sept. 7 at Kansas State before their home opener Sept. 14 against Nicholls State.
Broadway, who is entering his junior season, also mentioned Louisiana-Monroe as a team with national potential.
After all, the Warhawks opened last season with a road win at Arkansas, marking the first time a Sun Belt team had defeated a top-10 opponent and just the second time it had defeated a ranked opponent. But the upset was followed by a 31-28 overtime loss at Auburn and a second close loss in Week 3, this time 47-42 to visiting Baylor.
“At the end of the season, they had a couple of consecutive losses that stopped them from getting the recognition that they should have,” Broadway said.
“I think they were on the verge of making that happen. “I think Arkansas State could too.”
Sun Belt champion Arkansas State won its last eight games, including seven of eight conference games, but faltered earlier in the season with losses at Nebraska and nationally ranked Oregon.
This season, ULM starts the season Aug. 31 at Oklahoma before hosting Grambling the following week. Arkansas State hosts Arkansas Pine-Bluff before traveling to Auburn (Sept. 7).
If ULM and Arkansas State fail to earn national success, it will be up to Broadway and ULL, a task that he’s embracing.
“If we focus on one game at a time, I believe we can win every game on our schedule,” he said. “And that’s not just saying that to be saying that. I firmly believe we can win every game.
“I’ve seen 12-0 teams slip and lose the 13th game and fall out the BCS ratings. Just be focused. I think that’s what Boise State and TCU did when they were non-BCS-qualifying teams. Stay focused on the task at hand.”
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