The 2023 champions have been decided; congratulations to the winners of the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl! Jacksonville State University won an overtime 34-31 victory against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. At halftime, the teams were tied 14-14. However, the match remained 31-31 at the end of the fourth quarter, ultimately playing out in favor of the Jax State.
This marks the first R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl win for the Gamecocks, who clinched the game in their first overall bowl game appearance. In securing this win, Head Coach Rich Rodriguez established his team as a contender for future bowl invites. Having previously won two thirds of their games for the 2023 season, Jax State eagerly adds another triumph to their record. A win against the Cajuns in no easy feat and the Gamecocks showed up if force at their first R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.
R+L Carriers served as the New Orleans Bowl title sponsor for the 18th consecutive year and will return next year ahead of a new Sun Belt Conference and Conference USA matchup.
Team Spirit Inside Caesars Superdome
School spirit was all the rage prior to deciding this year’s 2023 champions. Louisiana-Lafayette and Jax State fans lined Caesars Superdome dressed to support their teams while the players geared up to clash for the title. Here’s a snapshot of some of the action in the stands, on the field and across the game venue.
Game Week Prior to Crowning 2023 Champions
Ahead of the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, football players were treated to a lineup of activities as part of 2023’s game week. Before the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Jacksonville State competed for the win, both teams took part in interviews, parties and community service. The road to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl started Tuesday evening, with the Ragin’ Cajuns and Gamecocks arriving to The Big Easy. Volunteers from the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation greeted players as they stepped off the bus, draping them with iconic New Orleans beads. Each team was determined to become this year’s 2023 champions.
Players Party at Mardi Gras World
Once both teams had settled in, each group had a chance to relax at New Orleans’ own Mardi Gras World. This venue bills itself as providing “a real, behind-the-scenes look at New Orleans Mardi Gras” courtesy of their Mardi Gras World Tour. They also offer guests over a dozen different hotels and destinations to choose from when visiting the city. Tuesday night, players were living it up, eating fine food, dancing the night away and dabbling in a bit of karaoke, a welcome reprieve before preparations began for the big game. Game week was off to a great start and the events just kept on coming.
A Day of Service During Game Week
Wednesday brought the advent of this year’s community service day ahead of the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. Each year, both competing teams donate their time to assist local charity groups and organizations for game week. Although only one team could become the 2023 champions, both were winners in the eyes of the people they helped.
Louisiana-Lafayette players visited Ochsner Hospital for Children, as well as the local branch of the Special Olympics to head up some recreational activities. The Cajuns also helped out at Second Harvest Food Bank cutting vegetables, shredding meat and tackling other culinary tasks.
Jax State partnered with the Bayou District Foundation to read to 4 and 5-year-old youth at the Educare New Orleans facility. Pontchartrain Conservancy welcomed the Gamecocks as well, with the players cleaning up and mulching around the Bucktown Harbor Marina. Finally, Jax State sorted Mardi Gras beads for ArcGNO, an organization that supports people with intellectual disabilities.
Practice in the Superdome
Caesars Superdome annually hosts the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, welcoming teams from across the Sun Belt Conference and Conference USA. Wednesday’s community service was paired with separate visits to the Superdome, where both the Cajuns and Gamecocks held practice on the field. Having won five of their past six R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl appearances, Louisiana-Lafayette is well at home in the venue. Meanwhile, Jax State’s game week practice hopes to strengthen their gameplay ahead of their bout against the former champions.
Coaches and Players Luncheon
Friday saw the final major event before the big game, culminating in the coaches and players luncheon. Head Coach Michael Desormeaux from the University of Louisiana Lafayette and Head Coach Rich Rodriguez of Jacksonville State University both got the chance to speak on their teams’ progress ahead of the 2023 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. This year’s keynote speaker was a familiar face, former NBA player and coach Avery Johnson. Johnson returns to this role after first appearing as the coaches and players luncheon keynote speaker a decade ago in 2013. With a wealth of knowledge in basketball and NCAA play, his address was welcome at the conclusion of 2023’s game week events.
See You Next Year!
R+L Carriers returns in 2024 as the New Orleans Bowl title sponsor for the 19th consecutive year. Thank you to everyone who tweeted #RLBowl and #neworleansbowl; your support brings recognition to the 2023 champions and hardworking athletes on both teams.