It’s the good, the bad and the ugly.
The good? The Lamar Cardinals have announced their 2011 football schedule.
The bad? The Cards officially enter Southland Conference play and are eligible to win the conference title, so all conference games count.
The ugly? The non-conference portion is weak. With the Cards playing league football now, they won’t be able to pick and chose opponents, so a win is a win. The football team needs to stay away from the stigma of beating up on non-conference opponents only to struggle during SLC play.
Sept. 3, Langston University, 7 p.m.
The Cards will open the season at home with Langston University, a team Lamar defeated 14-0 last season in Beaumont. This will be an easy way to open the season with a big win in front of a big crowd.
Sept. 10, at South Alabama, 4 p.m.
Lamar was shut out one game last season and this was it — a 26-0 home loss on Oct. 16. The Jaguars went 10-0 last season, which was their second season of football, but things are much different this year playing the likes of North Carolina State and Kent State. I’ll give South Alabama the edge in this one just because of the win last year, and it will be Lamar’s first road game.
Sept. 17, Incarnate Word, 7 p.m.
The Cards will return home to play their final non-conference game on their schedule, but it’s not very attractive. University of the Incarnate Word is a Division II school in San Antonio that competes in the Lone Star Conference with the likes of Abilene Christian, Angelo State and Tarleton State. This set of Cardinals went 3-7 last year and had one common opponent with Lamar — Langston University. UIW lost to Langston in the season opener, 28-20. The team is coached by Mike Santiago, who was once an assistant at Lamar under Larry Kennan. This should be an easy win for the Cardinals of Lamar.
Oct. 1, at Southeastern Louisiana, TBA
Lamar will open the Southland Conference portion of their schedule in Hammond against the Lions, who were 2-9 overall and 1-6 in conference. Down 28-15, Lamar scored 14 fourth quarter points to come from behind to beat SELA 29-28 on Sept. 18 in Hammond. The pressure is going to be on Lamar due to the fact it’s their first conference game, but a win isn’t impossible.
Oct. 8, Northwestern State, 6 p.m.
The Cards’ first conference
game in Provost Umphrey Stadium. The Demons of Northwestern State went a respectable 4-3 last season in the SLC and finished 5-6 overall. Coached by former LSU and University of Houston assistant Bradley Dale Peveto, who was also a standout athlete at Orangefield, NSU will be tested when they come to Beaumont after meetings with LSU and SMU.
Oct. 15, at Texas State, TBA
The Bobcats struggled last season by finishing 4-7 (1-6 SLC), so they hired former TCU, Alabama and Texas A&M head coach Dennis Franchione. This will be the last league meeting between the two schools because Texas State is moving out of the FCS and will begin play in the WAC in 2012.
Oct. 22, Central Arkansas, 6 p.m.
The back half of the schedule is very tough for Lamar. The Cards will host Central Arkansas for Homecoming, but it will be no easy task. The Bears were 7-4 last season (4-3 SLC).
Oct. 29, at Sam Houston State, TBA
Lamar will travel to Huntsville to face the Bearkats of Sam Houston State. SHSU went 6-5 last season (4-3 SLC) and had a home record of 3-1. They will be much improved in 2011.
Nov. 5, Stephen F. Austin, 6 p.m.
The Cardinals will have this one circled on their calendar. Not only was SFA the defending conference champion last season with a 9-3 record, but SFA also embarrassed Lamar by beating them 71-3 in a game that was televised in Beaumont.
Nov. 12, Nicholls State, TBA
Lamar will play a scrappy Nicholls team for their final regular season road game. The Colonels were 5-6 (4-3 SLC) last season and won their last two games against Northwestern State and Southeastern Louisiana.
Nov. 19, McNeese State, 6 p.m.
Interstate-10 rival McNeese State will travel east to Beaumont for the Cards’ regular season finale. The Cowboys were 6-5 overall and 5-2 in SLC play in 2010 and defeated Lamar in the season opener last year, 30-27. If Lamar is the conference title race, this game will have more than just a rival feeling.
Early prediction: 5-6 overall, 3-5 in SLC
Chad Cooper can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 241, or by e-mail at cooper [at] theexaminer [dot] com.