It was back in 1996 that Louisiana-Lafayette stunned No. 25 Texas A&M, 29-22, for the biggest home field win at "The Swamp" in school history. It's not been since that game that the Cajuns have defeated a team of BCS magnitude. Saturday in a 6 p.m. kickoff, they feel that losing streak can be stopped with a win over Kansas State.
For the Wildcats to improve to 2-0, they must contend with the heat/humidity, as well as the speedy talents of the Cajuns.
"I think that there is a certain mental aspect of it, but you just have to go play," said coach Bill Snyder said of playing four quarters of football in muggy conditions. "We practiced indoors last night (Monday) and turned the heat up to about 90 degrees, so it felt like a sauna. The temperature and the humidity down in Louisiana will be always higher, but that's part of the game. We can't cancel the trip, we just have to go down there and play."
Head trainer Matt Thomason requested that each Wildcat carry Gatorade bottles on campus throughout the week and consume an extra gallon of fluid per day beyond their intake at a normal practice.
"It's a sharp pain that comes out of nowhere. You don't necessarily feel it coming," said Thomason, KSU's eight-year head athletic trainer of the cramping that can take place in high-humidity games.
"It's an intense pain where muscles contract without voluntary effort. A full body cramp is something any athlete will tell you they don't care to go through again. Nothing helps the education on the importance of hydration more quickly than to suffer a severe cramp."
While Louisiana carries the stigma of being a mid-major, Snyder said, "They've played BCS schools before. They almost won here last year (45-37 loss to K-State in 2008). They're used to playing this type of game. I'm sure they will be excited about the opportunity, but they are not going to be intimidated."
And, Snyder said that K-State can't be intimidated by "The Swamp" crowd that sits "… right on top of you much like they do at Oklahoma State."
He added, "The important thing is that the game is being played in front of you (on the field) and not behind you (in the stadium)," Snyder said.
The team that shuts down the run will likely have the best chance of victory. Both teams went over 200 yards in opening wins – KSU rushed for 225 against UMass, and Louisiana for 208 against Southern.
"I think they both did a nice job. They are two different types of runners. Thomas is a fluid runner and can run with some strength and power. As you saw, he has the ability to move the pile and that comes from good lower- and upper-body strength," Snyder said. "Keithen runs hard as well."
He then added, "The important thing for us is that we have to block the people in front of them and give them some chances. They made a lot of things happen after first contact (vs. UMass). So what we have to do is give them more space in which to operate and that did happen a few times."
Louisiana's run game features 5-8, 207-pound Undrea Sails, who netted 114 yards last week, while QB Chris Masson was passing for 283 yards (18-of-24).
In scouting the Wildcats, Louisiana offensive coordinator Ron Hudson said, "They are a big physical football team. They have a legendary football coach who will run the ball and stop the run. KSU has a really good defense that presents us with some problems. They will make us earn everything."