Texas State looks set to finish the season on a high as it hosts the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns in the regular season finale.
Despite being ineligible for the bowl, there is still a lot for the Bobcats to play for, as head football coach Jake Spavital explained.
“[The players] know what’s at stake this week,” Spavital said. “They play for the pride of the state of Texas and for each other. They are also playing for the momentum to move forward with the football program leaving these seniors playing their last game at Bobcat Stadium on a high note.
Team morale is still soaring despite the Bobcats being bowlless for the eighth year in a row – which was a goal for the seniors – as well as a spate of late-season injuries that plagued the team.
“You sit there after Josh Berry goes down at the end of the fourth quarter, and you see the pain on his face as he grabs my arm,” said Spavital. “You sit there and say ‘Man, we’re dealing with another season-ending injury’. With all the ups and downs with injuries, what I love about these guys is that they’re supported by their players. They’ll be there for being them and they show a lot of resilience and optimism about how they will bounce back while being there for the team.
But injuries aren’t the only thing Texas State has been dealing with this season – a series of narrow last-minute losses have plagued the Bobcats this season. However, the course was reversed with the last-second victory over Arkansas State last week.
Despite the losses, the players themselves know that a single football game is not the direct result of a match.
“Losing that way with the Southern Miss game and the ULM kick still hurts,” said Spavital. “But this is a selfless team. They understand that one game doesn’t determine the outcome of the game. [The players] know that and everyone has their own issues they face. They look in the mirror and tell themselves to solve their problems before addressing other people. That’s what I love about this team…proud of these guys for how they handle all these unfortunate scenarios.
As for their opponent, it’s been a rough year for the Ragin’ Cajuns, as they must win to qualify for bowl.
Like the Bobcats, Louisiana is also plagued with small losses, including losing to ULM, Troy, and South Alabama by one possession.
With the Ragin’ Cajuns fighting for their season and Texas State, Spavital expects it to be an uphill battle.
“We have a strong Louisiana team,” Spavital said. “This is going to be a messy game and this is going to be the same Louisiana team we’ve always played against. They’ve also been through some adversity with injuries, but they still have the same approach when it comes to attacking. They’ve played against three different quarterbacks this year while showing great signs that they’re doing some really great things. Defensively, they are still showing the same edge, but with the new coaching change, new bodies and new schedule, they are still making their groove and figuring things out on a daily basis. It is a sloppy but talented team and we have our hands full.”
The history of the football series between the state of Texas and Louisiana has been a lopsided affair ever since the Bobcats joined the Sun Belt Conference.
Playing every year since 2013, Louisiana is currently 8-0 over their border neighbors, including a dominant 45-0 victory over Texas State last season.
Kick-off is Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. at Bobcat Stadium in San Marcos.