New Orleans Bowl breakdown: Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns vs. Tulane Green Wave
Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4) vs. Tulane (7-5)
Dec. 21, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
• Reason to watch: Louisiana-Lafayette’s offense has been mostly effective to date, averaging 34.6 points per game. Tulane ranks tied for 19th nationally in scoring defense, allowing only 21.2 points. When the teams collide in New Orleans, something has to give. The Green Wave also boast a turnover margin of 1.0, tied for ninth in the FBS. That opportunistic mindset is a major reason why coach Curtis Johnson’s program secured a bowl berth for the first time since 2002.
• Keep an eye on: Louisiana-Lafayette’s speedy tailback tandem of Alonzo Harris and Elijah McGuire. The duo combined for 1,686 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns for a Ragin’ Cajuns’ ground game that ranks 26th in the country. Coach Mark Hudspeth’s squad might have to rely heavily on Harris and McGuire; starting quarterback Terrance Broadway is questionable for the bowl game after going down with a broken arm on Nov. 30 against Louisiana-Monroe. The Cajuns used three backup quarterbacks — redshirt freshmen Brooks Haack, Jalen Nixon and D’Shaie Landor — in a 30-8 loss to South Alabama on Dec. 7. It’ll be a long night for Louisiana-Lafayette if its rushing attack can’t generate some production.
• Did you know: Louisiana-Lafayette went 41 consecutive seasons without playing in a bowl before Hudspeth helped the Cajuns become eligible in his first campaign at the helm in 2011. Since then, the program has gone to the New Orleans Bowl in three consecutive years.
• Final analysis: Tulane is hardly an offensive powerhouse. Quarterback Nick Montana has completed just 53 percent of his attempts for an offense that ranks 87th nationally in scoring (25.1 points per game). Still, the Green Wave’s proven defense should dictate this one, particularly if Broadway isn’t able to go.
• The pick: Tulane 24, Louisiana-Lafayette 17