Forecast is for cold, wet conditions when the No. 21 Ragin' Cajuns visit Appalachian State

Tim Buckley
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

UL’s quest to finally knock off its nemesis could come down to … the weather?

It’s possible. 

On Tuesday, Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, North Carolina, was covered in fresh snow. By Thursday, much of it had melted but small patches remained here and there.

When the No. 21 Ragin' Cajuns (8-1, 6-1 Sun Belt) visit Appalachian State (7-2, 5-1) on Friday (7:30 p.m., ESPN), cold rain and temperature dipping into the 30s are in the forecast.

Appalachian State coach Shawn Clark roots for more. 

“Hopefully it rains, sleets, snows, all of the above,” he told the Winston-Salem Journal. “It’s what we were made for.”

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UL coach Billy Napier doesn’t shiver as the Cajuns, who are ranked in the College Football Playoff Top 25 for the first time in program history, head to Boone knowing weather will play a role.

“It definitely will affect the game,” he said, “and I would like to think we’ve got a tough-minded group that will be prepared to handle those type of conditions if need be.”

But Napier, whose Cajuns, No. 25 in the CFP poll, are 0-8 all-time against the Mountaineers, including 0-4 under his command since the start of 2018, said “personnel and concept matchups” will be “more of a factor that than the actual conditions.”

Still, the Cajuns coach worked his team outdoors at Cajun Field even with temperatures in the 40s – chilly by Louisiana standards.

“Mother Nature cooperated,” Napier said.

To a degree.

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“We did all we can do to simulate what we may see,” Napier said.

“It is what it is. It’s why football’s a great game, man. … Weather’s a part of the strategy. It’s part of the factors and variables. … So, I’m excited about it. I think for our guys, the tougher the better.”

Napier’s offensive play-calling script can be altered depending on the weather.

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“We always have contingency plans,” he said, adding his game plan is built “with enough flexibility … to pick the right stuff, depending on the conditions.”

Appalachian State has beaten UL twice in the regular season and twice in the Sun Belt championship game the past two seasons.

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The league’s inaugural 2018 title game was played in near-freezing temperatures as a strong sleet pelted players and fans. The Mountaineers won 30-19, but the Cajuns held their own in conditions they simply aren’t accustomed to.

“It’s gonna be a little cold (Friday),” starting defensive lineman Zi’Yon Hill said, “but we’re prepared for it.”

But if it did snow heavily?

“Honestly, I’ve been in Louisiana my whole life,” said Hill, a product of Catholic High in New Iberia. “I’ve never even seen snow. But I don’t mind.”

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