The college football bowl season rolls on this weekend as the New Orleans Bowl kicks off on Saturday. Along with Boise State and Washington in the MAACO Bowl in Las Vegas, Louisiana-Lafayette will play in its home state against East Carolina for the best team in the Big Easy.
Last week's games saw Arizona edge by Nevada 49-48, while Utah State handled Toledo 51-15 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
HERE is the full schedule of college bowl games for the 2012 season. The first round of Bowl Predictions from Sports World Report can be found here and includes Toledo and Arizona. The second post of predictions, including Boise State and Ball State, can be found at this link.
Saturday, December 22, 2012
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
East Carolina vs. LA-Lafayette
12:00 PM ET, ESPN
The New Orleans Bowl offers an evenly matched contest between two teams entering the game on three game winning streaks. The Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns are playing the game in their own neck of the woods, while East Carolina is travelling from the East coast.
The game is expected to be a high-scoring affair, as both teams rack up yards on offense and rank in the bottom of the nation in defense.
New Orleans serves good memories for the Cajuns, who played in the same bowl game last season, which they won 32-30 over San Diego State. It was the first bowl game for the school since 1970 and they hope to turn it into two straight victories for the first time in the history of the program.
"It's all about these young men and the hard work they've put in," second-year coach Mark Hudspeth said to the Associated Press. "I couldn't be more proud of these guys. Our goal is to finish with a 9-4 record for two straight seasons."
Terrance Broadway will start at quarterback for Louisiana-Lafayette, a role he has taken over since first-stringer Blaine Gautier, who was the MVP of last year's bowl game, broke his hand in September.
"Terrance is leading this team and he's playing at a very high level," Hudspeth said.
Broadway has played part of every game this season and has passed for 2526 yards and 16 touchdowns with just eight interceptions. He is completing over 65 percent of his passes and has 168 yards in the regular season finale against Florida Atlantic. In the previous week's win over South Alabama, the sophomore had 305 yards and two touchdowns in the 52-30 victory.
The sophomore had his best game against Arkansas State, throwing for 374 yards and three touchdowns in the 50-27 loss. He had a season-high four touchdown passes against Louisiana-Monroe the following week and has thrown for at least one touchdown in four of the past five games. If the Pirates hope to stop the Cajuns, they will need to pressure Broadway, who has a cannon for an arm.
The Cajuns have been one of the highest-powered offenses in the nation, averaging over 400 total yards per game, including 256 through the air. The team ranks 34th in the nation in scoring with 34 points per game and has won three straight games while scoring at least 31 points.
The defense has been one of the weaker points of the team this season, but has come up strong in the biggest games, including in the 27-20 loss to then-No. 6 Florida on Nov. 10. The Cajuns were leading against the Gators towards the end of the game, but ended up losing on a blocked kick that was returned for a touchdown.
The team opened the season 4-1, but then lost two straight to North Texas and Arkansas State. After defeating Louisiana-Monroe, the team lost to Florida, but has since won the final three games of the regular season.
The Cajuns finished 8-4 on the year and came in second place in the Sun Belt conference with a 6-2 record behind Arkansas State. Running back Alonzo Harris has rushed for 761 yards while splitting time and has also scored eight touchdowns. In the final game against Florida Atlantic he had 127 yards rushing with three scores in the 35-21 win.
The Cajuns will have their hands full with East Carolina, another team that averages over 400 yards per game, including 272 through the air. The Pirates have won three straight games and return to the college football postseason for the first time since 2010.
"All bowl games are exciting to me. Not going to one last year really makes you even more excited," third-year coach Ruffin McNeill said. "We're looking forward to going to New Orleans."
East Carolina hasn't won a bowl game since 2007, but might have a good chance to break out against a defense that gives up nearly 30 points per game. The Pirates are scoring over 30 points per game and is averaging 134 yards per game on the ground.
Quarterback Shane Carden has been stellar all season, especially in the second half of the year. He has passed for 2,838 yards and 21 touchdowns this season and has passed for over 300 yards in four of the last six games. In the regular season finale against Marshall, he passed for a school-record 439 in the 65-59 overtime win.
"Last year, we had to go home and we were home for too long," said Carden, who made his first collegiate start Sept. 15. "We're really excited to go play against Louisiana-Lafayette."
East Carolina will move to the Big East in 2014 and is looking for a positive end to the season after missing the postseason last year. According to the Associated Press, the Pirates are 5-7 all-time in bowl games and last won the 2007 Hawaii Bowl against Boise State.
The Pirates have playmakers all over the offense and has a 1,000-yard rusher and receiver for the first time in school history. Running back Vintavious Cooper has rushed for 1,030 yards and seven touchdowns, including two scores in the final win over Marshall.
Wide receiver Justin Hardy has been just as good, making 83 receptions for 1,046 yards and 10 touchdowns. He had a stellar game against Marshall, making 16 catches for 171 yards.
According to the Associated Press, "Louisiana-Lafayette has won six of 10 all-time meetings with East Carolina but lost 20-10 in the most recent matchup Sept. 22, 1990, when the school was known as Southwestern Louisiana."
PREDICTION: Louisiana-Lafayette 52, East Carolina 38. This game could turn out to be the highest scoring matchup in all of the college bowl season. Both offenses are stellar, while the defenses are lacking true playmakers. Broadway has played great late in the season and should continue. Also it's the Cajuns playing in New Orleans, it's meant to be right?