Ragin' Cajuns overmatched in 61-34 loss to OSU
It figured to be a mismatch, and it was.
Louisiana-Lafayette finished 3-9 in 2010 and in its opener at No. 9 Oklahoma State, the Rajin' Caguns used eight underclassmen on defense against an offense which returned eight starters and ranked third in the FBS last season.
The young Louisiana-Lafayette defense returned two interceptions for touchdowns, but in the end, Oklahoma State (1-0) was just too much. The Cowboys rolled up 666 yards of offense and beat the Rajin' Cajuns 61-34.
''The thing that I know we have improved on from last year is that we are a tough football team and we will play four quarters,'' Louisiana-Lafayette coach Mark Hudspeth said. ''I think that was evident tonight. They only outscored us by three in the second half. I think we are a tough team, mentally, a lot more than we were last year and I think we are on the right page.''
The Rajin' Cajuns led Oklahoma State 24-17 at halftime last season in Lafayette, although the Cowboys eventually won 54-28. But by halftime in this season's game, the Cowboys were up 34-10 and had 377 yards of offense, compared to 101 for Louisiana-Lafayette (0-1).
Louisiana-Lafayette's offense struggled mightily in the first half but showed signs of life over the final 30 minutes, finishing with 320 total yards. Junior quarterback Blaine Gautier got the start and completed 13 of 26 passes for 106 yards. He was sacked five times. Senior Chris Masson played sparingly, completing 6-of-10 for 63 yards.
''(Gautier) showed that he's got some dynamic running ability and he made some nice throws,'' Hudspeth said. ''But he also missed a couple of easy throws that he's got to be automatic on. I thought he did some good things tonight.''
Gautier said the Rajin' Cajuns started slow but never gave up. Their first two touchdowns came from the defense, with the offensive producing two touchdown drives in the final eight minutes.
''We gave so much effort in this game and I'm really proud of my team,'' Gautier said. ''This is just one game and we are going to be so much better. We played the No. 9 team in their home stadium. There are better things to come.''
Brett Baer hit field goals of 23 and 29 yards for Louisiana-Lafayette.
Oklahoma State's offensive numbers were much glossier. Joseph Randle rushed 22 times for 129 yards and two touchdowns, Justin Blackmon had 144 yards receiving and Brandon Weeden completed 24 of 39 passes for 388 yards and three touchdowns for Oklahoma State (1-0) in Todd Monken's debut as the Cowboys' offensive coordinator. Monken replaced Dana Holgorsen, who is now the head coach at West Virginia.
Another Oklahoma State receiver, Tracy Moore, had seven catches for 112 yards - career highs in both categories - and a touchdown as the Cowboys posted the ninth-best offensive outing in school history.
Offensively, ''I thought we could have played better,'' Oklahoma State coach Gundy said. ''But I like it when we don't play as good and score 61.''
Sporting new gray uniform tops with difficult-to-read orange numbers - and their highest preseason ranking - the Cowboys started slow but gathered steam as the game progressed, scoring three touchdowns in a five-minute span in the second quarter.
Randle scored Oklahoma State's first touchdown on a 4-yard run late in the first quarter and had another 4-yard scoring run in the second quarter. In between, Jeremy Smith scored on a 1-yard run and Weeden hit Josh Cooper on a 15-yard touchdown pass.
Quinn Sharp kicked four field goals for Oklahoma State, from 27, 22, 46 and 23 yards.