New Orleans Bowl
December 20, 2013
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New Orleans Bowl (ESPN, 9:00 p.m.)
ULL Ragin Cajuns (8-4 SU, 4-8 ATS) vs. Tulane Green Wave (7-5 SU, 9-3 ATS)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Tulane -1.5 & 49.5
Opening Line & Total: Green Wave -2.5 & 49.5
UL-Lafayette tries to win the New Orleans Bowl for the third straight season as they take on in-state rival Tulane on Saturday night.
The Ragin' Cajuns have had plenty of success in the Superdome in the past two postseasons. Two years ago they won a close 32-30 battle against San Diego State, and then won 43-34 against East Carolina in front of a New Orleans Bowl record-setting crowd last season. UL-Lafayette won eight straight games between Sept. 14 and Nov. 16, including starting 5-0 in conference play, before losing their its final two games of the season to Sun Belt foes UL-Monroe and South Alabama.
The Green Wave also started conference play in strong fashion, winning their first four games against C-USA opponents. They looked as if they would be competing to play in the conference championship until they lost three of their final four games and finished fourth in the West division. Tulane put up a strong effort against eventual conference champion Rice in its final game, losing only 17-13 as 9.5-point underdogs and held the Owls to zero points in the second half. This will be Tulane’s 11th bowl game and first since 2002, going 4-6 SU in its previous 10, but winning its past two bowls.
The Ragin' Cajuns are currently on a five-game ATS losing streak and are only 4-8 ATS this season while the Green Wave have been an impressive 9-3 ATS, including 7-1 ATS over their past eight games. These two programs squared off last season with UL-Lafayette pounding Tulane by a score of 41-13, but failing to cover the large 31-point spread. They outrushed the Green Wave 294-53 in that game and forced three turnovers. Both teams are relatively healthy for this game, but the big question is whether or not UL-Lafayette QB Terrance Broadway can play after breaking his arm on Nov. 30. He's considered questionable right now, as the doctors have not yet cleared him to play.
After scoring 23+ points in 10 straight games, the Ragin’ Cajuns really missed junior QB Terrance Broadway (2,276 pass yards, 19 TD, 10 INT) in the regular season finale, scoring just eight points at South Alabama with three UL-Lafayette quarterbacks combining to complete just 9-of-26 passes for 143 yards (5.5 YPA), 1 TD and 2 INT. If Broadway is not able to go, freshman QB Brooks Haack (224 pass yards, 6.4 YPA, 1 TD, 1 INT) will be taking the snaps. Broadway also adds a lot to the running game with 421 rushing yards (3.6 YPC) and eight touchdowns on the ground.
The uncertainty at quarterback makes HBs Alonzo Harris (868 rush yards, 4.7 YPC, 13 TD) and Elijah McGuire (818 rush yards, 8.9 YPC, 7 TD) that much more important. McGuire has been lightning in a bottle this season with four games of at least 11 yards per carry, but he rushed the ball only three times for 13 yards in the loss to South Alabama. Junior WR Jamal Robinson has been the main target in the passing game with 812 receiving yards (16.2 avg.) and eight touchdowns, but he is coming off a game where he had only one catch for 11 yards.
LB Justin Anderson (124 tackles) leads this defense that has allowed 26.9 PPG to their opponents this season (68th in nation), including giving up 30+ points in four of the past five games. The Cajuns have done a decent job stopping the run (4.2 YPC), but have allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 61.2% of their passes for 239 YPG.
Tulane surprisingly won seven games this season despite having an offense that ranks 104th in FBS passing yards (176 YPG) and 102nd in rushing yards (128 YPG). QB Nick Montana has a subpar 1,654 passing yards (5.7 YPA) with 14 TD and 9 INT this season, but he has thrown four touchdowns and zero picks over his past contests. That's quite an improvement from his 0 TD and 5 INT in two games to start the month of November.
Senior HB Orleans Darkwa has 780 rushing yards on 172 attempts (4.5 YPC) while adding nine touchdowns, but has been wildly inconsistent. He has three 100+ yard games this year, but has also been held to 50 yards or less in six different contests. The true star on the offense has been senior WR Ryan Grant, who has compiled 926 receiving yards on 70 receptions (13.2 avg.) and nine touchdowns. He has 7+ catches in six games this year, and hopes to be playing on Sundays next season.
The defense has played pretty well all season, allowing only 21.2 PPG (19th in nation), including holding four of the past five opponents to 17 points or less. The defense has been especially tough versus the run, giving up only 119 YPG on 3.1 YPC, and has forced multiple turnovers in all but one game this season, totaling 33 takeaways in the 12 games.
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