By Greg DeVries
I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived in Monroe, La.
The ULM Warhawks have never really accomplished anything at the FBS level.
They have never been to a bowl game, and only have one Sun Belt Conference Title.
The Warhawks’ game against Arkansas was an instant classic.
ULM won in overtime on junior quarterback Kolton Browning’s 16-yard touchdown run.
It is already being called “The shock in Little Rock.”
That game put ULM on the map.
Taking Auburn to overtime was just a reminder, especially to the Bears, that this team is for real.
The first thing that really stood out was the free parking.
My friends and I were decked out in our Baylor gear, and we were still allowed to park in a secure on-campus garage for free.
That means we didn’t have to pay $10 and hope that nobody broke in.
This new concept of free parking should be implemented in more places, but that’s another column for another day.
We quickly noticed that the ULM faithful sported all white shirts.
This was their first home game of the year, and they were there to party.
As we walked towards our seats, the stadium started to shake.
All of the sudden, a B-52 bomber flew over the stadium just after the national anthem.
We were in hostile territory.
The signs were the usual bunch. “Sucks to BU,” and “BU, more like PU,” were common, but what Baylor fan isn’t numb to that by now?
Their student section looked like what you would see at a college basketball game.
They were rowdy and organized. I was impressed.
Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson walked onto the field for the coin toss to a standing ovation from Warhawk nation.
Most of the Baylor section seemed a little puzzled, but we were in foreign territory.
After the first quarter, Baylor was down 14-0.
My thoughts then were the same as after the first half of the Sam Houston State game: If Baylor loses, it’ll be another stay in the land of college football obscurity.
Baylor’s defense is what it is, but the offense is usually explosive.
After watching senior quarterback Nick Florence throw two interceptions in the first quarter, the section of Baylor faithful looked shaken.
The offense eventually got into rhythm and the Baylor chants followed.
The Bears took a 24-21 lead into halftime, and things started to look up.
During halftime, the announcer thanked everyone in attendance for being part of their largest crowd in history: 31,175.
A quick Google search will tell you that Malone Stadium in Monroe, La., only holds 30,427.
The surplus of people was probably why the concession stands ran out of food for an extended period of time. But this is uncharted territory for ULM.
It is comparable to Baylor’s season last year. A long string of bad-to-mediocre seasons will finally end.
I don’t think I expected some trash talking from the home fans, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had happened. But it didn’t. The students that we encountered were nothing but friendly.
We arrived at Waffle House around midnight, and everybody was wearing ULM shirts except for us. Heads turned.
A young girl finally broke the silence and said, “That was a good game.”
We gave her a nod and a smile, and everyone went back to their meal.
No nasty looks, and no trash talking.
The experience was nothing but positive.
The Warhawks start Sun Belt play next week against a winless Tulane team. The rest of the Sun Belt is a combined 13-16, but the 1-2 Warhawks are still many people’s pick to win the conference.
Fight on, Warhawks. The rest of the nation is pulling for you.