Baylor and Louisiana-Monroe play a single game tonight that makes up the entirety of your Friday college football viewing schedule. We’re sure you have so many questions.
• What information do I, the discerning consumer, need to consume this game? The Bears and Warhawks kick off at 8 p.m. ET in Malone Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN and streamed on WatchESPN.
• Hang on. Malone Stadium is in Monroe. It is! Tonight’s meeting is both the first ever Warhawks-Bears contest and the first half of a home-and-home series — and it’s in Funroe. Next year, ULM travels to Baylor for its season opener on Aug. 31. The way the Warhawks have been playing this season, it’s hard to argue that they don’t deserve the home game.
• Did preseason prognostications reflect this sort of early burst of awesomeness for ULM? Ours most certainly did not, but that’s half the fun, isn’t it? We had the Warhawks pegged for a mid-conference finish thanks to what looked, at the time, like a brutal nonconference schedule and the perceived strengths of teams like FIU, Arkansas State, Western Kentucky and Louisiana. (The Sun Belt rolls deep this year, doesn’t it?) We did not expect ULM to get right up in the facemasks of two SEC teams in two weeks. But this time last year we were pretty sure we’d give our imaginary Heisman vote to T.Y. Hilton. Lots of football still to come, and tonight may pose the Warhawks’ most formidable challenge.
• Who will help the Warhawks stab their warlike beaks into the paws of invading Bears? Players to watch: Quarterback Kolton Browning and defensive back Mitch Lane. Browning, who had to be a natural-born quarterback with a name like “Kolton Browning,” has completed 70-of-113 attempts for 649 yards after two games, with six touchdowns and one pick, all while leading the team in rushing (30 carries, 127 yards). Lane, a redshirt freshman who operates out of a hybrid safety/linebacker position which the team refers to as “the Hawk,” has one interception, one fumble recovery and two pass breakups on the season, in addition to 10 tackles (four solo).
• There is another football team involved in this, yes? Right, right, Hello, Baylor! Well met, RGIII replacement Nick Florence! He’s not exactly a fresh face. No, we’ve seen plenty of Florence before, but apart from last year’s Texas Tech game, you’d have to go back to 2009 to find him getting significant playing time. Florence has amassed 757 yards of offense in the Bears’ first two games, including seven passing touchdowns. Defensively, be on the lookout for linebacker Bryce Hager, a sophomore with 15 solo tackles, three tackles for loss and a forced fumble after two games.
• Please promise we will see more points than we did last night. We can safely promise this.