Last Updated Dec 22, 2021, 10:36 AM

New Orleans Bowl Picks, Predictions and Odds: Louisiana vs. Marshall

Dec. 18, 2021
Dan Dobish
VI Betting Expert

The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns (12-1) head down to the Caesars Superdome to take on the Marshall Thundering Herd (7-5) in a Sun Belt vs. Conference USA showdown at the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 9:15 p.m. ET, and the game can be viewed on ESPN.

Score Prediction

Louisiana 27, Marshall 24

Best Bets

Marshall +5.5 (-110) at Caesars

Under 56 (-110) at FanDuel

New Orleans Bowl Predictions

The Ragin' Cajuns are going to have plenty of fun, and they'll be bringing a lot of people on the 135-mile jaunt from Lafayette to the French Quarter for what should be a red and black party with plenty of fleur de lis present. Head coach Billy Napier was named as the new head man at the University of Florida, but he stuck around and steered the team through its Sun Belt Championship Game against Appalachian State before handing the keys to the car over to Michael Desormeaux. He was named the team's 27th head coach on Dec. 5. This actually won't be his first game as head man at ULL, as he served as interim head coach in Dec. 2017, although he has no official gameday experience. That will change Saturday.

The Cajuns roll in on a 12-game win streak, last losing in a nationally-televised opening day game on FOX at Texas, a 38-18 loss on Sept. 4.

Marshall was dusted 53-21by Western Kentucky last time we saw them at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington, losing out on a shot at the East Division crown and a trip to the Conference USA championship game. It started out well for the Thundering Herd, as they had a 14-0 lead at one point, but the Hilltoppers rattled off 36 unanswered points and never looked back.

We're tracking opt-outs, too, and Louisiana will be without RB Chris Smith and DT Tayland Humphrey, two players who have elected not to play in New Orleans. Smith led the Ragin' Cajuns with 855 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, but ULL still has the services of RB Montrell Johnson, who will do most of the heavy lifting. He had 784 rushing yards and 11 scores. Humphrey had 15 total stops, a forced fumble and three passes defensed in 12 games, so his loss won't be as great of an impact.

The good news for Marshall, QB Grant Wells was knocked out of the WKU game after a blindside hit, but he is expected to be a full go.

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New Orleans Bowl Betting Odds

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New Orleans Bowl Betting Resources

  • Matchup: Sun Belt vs. CUSA
  • Date: Saturday, December 18, 2021
  • Venue: Caesars Superdome
  • Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
  • TV-Time: ESPN, 9:15 p.m. ET

Louisiana Ragin Cajuns Betting Analysis

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 12-1
  • ATS: 6-7
  • O/U: 3-10

The Ragin' Cajuns were strong from a straight-up record perspective, as they enter on a 12-game win streak, the longest active streak in FBS. However, they're just 6-6 ATS during the win streak, and 6-7 ATS overall on the season.

Louisiana won the First Responder Bowl last season against UTSA, another Conference USA opponent, but failed to cover a 14-point number in the 31-24 victory as the total pushed. It was the same story Jan. 6, 2021 in the LendingTree Bowl in Mobile, Ala., as the Cajuns posted a 27-17 win over Miami (Ohio), but they were unable to cover the 16-point number as the UNDER connected. And in the 2018 Cure Bowl against Tulane, they lost 41-24 as 3.5-point underdogs as the OVER cashed. In fact, they lost to Southern Miss in the NOLA Bowl in 2016 in the last bowl game under Mark Hudspeth, and haven't covered since a 16-3 victory over Nevada on Dec. 20, 2014 in the New Orleans Bowl. While covering hasn't happened for the Ragin' Cajuns in bowls, they are 6-2 SU all-time in postseason games, including a 4-1 SU record in the New Orleans Bowl.

As far as totals, the UNDER is 4-1-1 in the past six bowl games for Louisiana, while going 19-6-1 in the past 26 as a favorite. The UNDER is also 5-2-1 in the past eight games outside of the conference, including 3-0-1 in the past four against C-USA foes.

Marshall Thundering Herd Betting Analysis

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 7-5
  • ATS: 6-6
  • O/U: 6-6

Marshall heads down to Louisiana behind enemy lines, as they're likely to encounter plenty of hostiles on Bourbon Street. The Thundering Herd head into this one looking to snap a two-game bowl losing streak, including a 17-10 setback to Buffalo in the Camellia Bowl on Christmas Day 2020 in front of a COVID-restricted crowd of 2,512 people in the Cramton Bowl in Birmingham, Ala.

The last win for the Herd came against South Florida in the 2018 Gasparilla Bowl, a 38-20 win, with RB Keion Davis stealing the show. He is long gone, but the Ragin' Cajuns would do well to make sure they know where RB Rasheen Ali is on the field at all times. He gashed opponents for 1,241 rushing yards, 5.4 yards per attempt and 20 touchdowns in just 12 games.

Marshall has covered seven of the past nine bowl games, and they're 6-2 ATS in the past eight games played at a neutral site. However, they're just 2-6 ATS in the past eight against teams with a winning record, and 0-4 ATS in the past four appearances in the month of December.

Inside the Stats - Louisiana Ragin Cajuns

  • Record: 12-1
  • VI Ranking: 15
  • Points Scored: 399
  • Points Allowed: 238
  • PS/G: 30.7
  • PA/G: 18.3

Inside the Stats - Marshall Thundering Herd

  • Record: 7-5
  • VI Ranking: 91
  • Points Scored: 408
  • Points Allowed: 273
  • PS/G: 34.0
  • PA/G: 22.8

Key Players to Watch

  • ULL: Montrell Johnson - RB (143 rushes, 784 yards, 11 TD)
  • ULL: Levi Lewis - QB (217/360, 2,647 yards, 24 total TDs, 4 INT)
  • MARS: Rasheen Ali - RB (230 rushes, 1,241 yards, 20 TD)
  • MARS: Grant Wells - QB (280/418, 3,436 yards, 23 total TDs, 10 INT)

New Orleans Bowl Betting Conclusion

I've attended the New Orleans Bowl in person, in the first bowl ever for Florida Atlantic University. They took on Memphis in the Superdome, my second-ever trip to the big silver domed stadium in the middle of New Orleans. If you've never been, I highly recommended seeing a sporting event there. Of course, my team won that evening, and I may filled up on a few adult beverages, so perhaps my opinion is a little swayed. But if you're going to attend a bowl game, seeing one in New Orleans is about the best place to be. Well, if you enjoy fun.

It is going to be an interesting transition for the Ragin' Cajuns. It's never easy to lose a coach at the end of the season, and Desormeaux is thrown into the fire against a solid Thundering Herd team with a top-notch running back. The Cajuns allowed 145.8 yards per game on the ground, 54th in the nation, so they're just so-so. Ali is definitely going to get his on the fast track in NOLA. The pass D is strong, though, and even with Wells in the mix, it's going to be a slow go for the Herd.

The Cajuns are down their leading rusher, as Smith opted out, but Johnson is more than capable of picking up the slack. The Herd allowed 188.8 yards per game on the ground, just 105th in the nation. Louisiana is going to try and run, run and then run some more. With Marshall's run game also the strong suit, we'll see plenty of running clock, too. It won't be a defensive slog, but UNDER bettors love it when two running teams are facing each other.

New Orleans Bowl Betting Trends

  • Louisiana is 1-4 ATS in the past five neutral-site games.
  • Louisiana is 0-4 ATS in the past four bowl games.
  • Louisiana is 2-5 ATS in the past seven games as a favorite.
  • Marshall is 6-2 ATS in the past eight neutral-site games.
  • Marshall is 7-2 ATS in the past nine bowl games.
  • Marshall is 2-6 ATS in the past eight games against winning teams.
  • The UNDER is 4-1-1 in the past six bowl games for Louisiana.
  • The UNDER is 4-1 in the past five games overall for Marshall.

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