New Orleans Bowl 2013: Louisiana-Lafayette vs Tulane TV Info and Predictions
The Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns will be making their third straight appearance in the R+L Carriers New Orleans bowl against the hometown Tulane Green Wave.
This will mark ULL's third overall bowl bid, while TU will be headed to a bowl for the first time since 2002.
The Ragin' Cajuns are a perfect 2-0 in their two bowl appearances, beating East Carolina and San Diego State in New Orleans in the last two seasons.
They'll enter the game as the co-Sun Belt champion at 8-4 overall and 5-2 in conference play, while Tulane finished at No. 4 in the Conference-USA West Division at 7-5 overall and 5-3 in league play.
Time: Sat, Dec. 21, 9 p.m. EST
Place: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
Radio: ESPN Radio
Louisiana-Lafayette Keys to Victory
1. Establish the Run
Louisiana-Lafayette boasts the No. 1 rush offense in the Sun Belt Conference, tallying more than 220 yards per game on the ground.
The Ragin' Cajuns are undefeated when they break 200 yards on the ground and will beat Tulane if they can beat that mark.
ULL is led by a strong one-two punch at running back of Alonzo Harris and Elijah McGuire. The two have combined for 20 rushing touchdowns and 1,686 yards.
Additionally, quarterback Terrance Broadway, who has added 421 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, is in question for the bowl game after breaking his forearm against Louisiana-Monroe. Tim Buckley of The Advertiser reported that Broadway is expected to return in time for the tilt with Tulane.
If he is unable to go, the roles played by Harris and McGuire will be that much more crucial.
2. Force Nick Montana Into Mistakes
Nick Montana has thrown just nine interceptions on the season, but seven of them have come in Tulane losses.
He has had two games with multiple picks and, not coincidentally, those coincided with two of the Green Wave's worst offensive outputs. The junior was picked three times as Tulane mustered just 167 total yards against Florida Atlantic. The next game, he was intercepted twice when his team posted just seven points in a loss to Texas-San Antonio.
Meanwhile, ULL has just one loss this season in games where it had at least one interception. That defeat came against Big 12 foe Kansas State.
If the Cajuns can pressure Montana into throwing an interception or two, they'll be hoisting their third straight New Orleans Bowl trophy.
3. Finish Drives
ULL broke its eight-game winning streak in Week 14 in a 31-28 loss to rival Louisiana-Monroe. The Cajuns outgained the Warhawks by nearly 100 yards, gained 10 more first downs and were excellent on third down.
However, ULL failed to finish drives and lost the turnover battle. The Cajuns missed one field goal and Broadway threw three interceptions, including two in the ULM end zone.
Their production greatly eclipsed that of the Warhawks, but they still lost because of those mistakes. ULL should be able to outproduce Tulane as well, but if it can't avoid mistakes, it'll end up on the wrong side of the scoreboard once again.
Tulane Keys to Victory
1. Stop ULL Ground Game
The Louisiana-Lafayette rushing attack will make the ultimate difference in this game. If the Cajuns can sustain long drives, keep the chains moving and punch in touchdowns consistently, Tulane will have no chance.
But while ULL's strength is on the ground, Tulane's strength is defending the run. The Green Wave finished No. 2 in Conference USA, allowing just 119.7 rushing yards per contest.
Tulane's biggest hope is to lean on its defensive strengths and control the line of scrimmage.
2. Win Turnover Battle
Tulane has prided itself on ball security and takeaways this season. The Green Wave are No. 10 nationally and No. 1 in C-USA with a plus-12 turnover margin.
While they have been largely successful at winning the turnover battle, the four games they haven't have seen them outscored 111-65, losing three of those contests.
We've already touched on how important the turnover battle will be for ULL and its quarterback, Broadway.
And just as the Cajuns will be looking to harass Montana, the Green Wave will look to do the same to Broadway.
3. Big Day from Darkwa
It would be fitting if Tulane running back Orleans Darkwa had a big day in the New Orleans Bowl.
It'll also play well into his team's strategy, which will be to carry on lengthy drives and keep the ULL offense off the field.
If Darkwa leads the Green Wave running game to a prolific performance, there's an excellent chance they'll be hoisting the New Orleans Bowl trophy.
ULL Players to Watch
1. QB Terrance Broadway
While Louisiana-Lafayette's offense is based around the run, the dual-threat Broadway is at the center of it all.
To see how much Broadway means to ULL, look no further than its ugly 30-8 loss to South Alabama to end the season when he was out of the lineup.
When he is on the field, the Cajuns are one of the best small-conference teams in college football. With him, they should beat Tulane—but they'll be in trouble without him.
Last year, Broadway accounted for more than 400 yards of total offense en route to being named New Orleans Bowl MVP in ULL's 43-34 win over East Carolina. He might not be asked to do as much this time, but don't be surprised if he takes MVP honors once again if he is able to play.
2a. RB Alonzo Harris
2b. RB Elijah McGuire
Junior Alonzo Harris and freshman Elijah McGuire represent a classic one-two punch at running back.
Harris is the first option, a 6'1", 216-pound power back who is vital in short-yardage and goal-line situations. After he wears down the defense, ULL plugs in the speedy 5'11", 185-pound McGuire.
McGuire is No. 2 in the Sun Belt in long rushes, with 12 rushes of 20 or more yards, six carries over 30 yards and three over 40 yards.
The duo has been tough to stop all season long and likely will be still against a tough Tulane defense.
3. LB Justin Anderson
Justin Anderson doesn't just lead Louisiana-Lafayette in tackles, he has tallied more tackles than any other defender in the Sun Belt.
With 124 tackles on the season, the senior ranks No. 12 nationally and No. 1 in the conference. He is also one of just 16 defenders in the nation to average 10 or more tackles per game.
If the ULL offense falters at all like it did to close the season against South Alabama, it'll be on Anderson and the defense to fill the void.
Tulane Players to Watch
1. QB Nick Montana
Son of legendary quarterback Joe Montana, Nick Montana isn't the prolific signal-caller that his dad was. He hasn't even eclipsed 2,000 passing yards this season, but he is still the leader of the Tulane offense.
The Green Wave win games on their defense, so it'll be on Montana to make solid decisions and help his defense win the field position battle throughout the game.
It'll be important to keep an eye on how the junior can manage the game for Tulane.
2. WR Ryan Grant
Ryan Grant is one of the best receivers in Conference USA and is likely Tulane's top draft prospect.
The senior is No. 3 in the league with 926 receiving yards and is tied for second with nine receiving touchdowns. Even those impressive stats don't tell how valuable he is to the Green Wave.
Grant has more receiving yards than Tulane's next three best receivers combined. If ULL can shut Grant down, the Tulane air attack will be crippled.
3. DB Lorenzo Doss
Tulane's Lorenzo Doss is one of the most underrated defensive backs in college football, and he'll be looking to show why this bowl season.
Doss is No. 2 in the nation with seven interceptions and has more interception return yards than any other defender in college football at 185.
Whether he pulls down a pick or not, there's a good chance Doss will be making plays one way or another in New Orleans.
What They Are Saying
Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson on the N.O. Bowl:
I want to thank the New Orleans Bowl. Out of all the colleges in the world, they chose us. I was telling the team earlier today that you guys are blessed that a bowl like the New Orleans Bowl is a fantastic place to have a bowl. It's home. You get the opportunity to play in front of all of your family and all of your friends.
Johnson on Tulane's first winning season in 10 years:
I really have to thank these assistant coaches. They've been fantastic. This is the best group in the world. I really appreciate them. I really love them. They stand up there and it's just a special bond when you have men who live by the rules of integrity, do it the right way, and they really, really love these kids. Most of all, I have to thank this team. When I first got here, I don't know what they thought. I don't know what they thought of me. I'm a little bit tough to deal with. You can ask my wife. I'm not the easiest person in the world to deal with. But you know what, I really have to thank this football team for coming together and having a great season like this. And guys, we're looking forward to doing this as many seasons as we can. Thank you.
ULL head coach Mark Hudspeth on the N.O. Bowl:
We are excited to receive our third straight bowl invitation and especially happy to be heading back to the R+L Carries New Orleans Bowl. We look forward to another great bowl experience that includes our fans taking over the great city of New Orleans and playing in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Our team and fans will be ready.
New Orleans Bowl Executive Director Mark Ferrante on the matchup:
It's very exciting for us to have a team located right in our own backyard, and we couldn't be more pleased to share this bowl experience with their team, coaches and fans. Having two Louisiana teams playing in the Dome for the first time will undoubtedly let the good times bowl.
The status of ULL's Broadway will be a major factor in the outcome of this game.
If he isn't able to go, Tulane could win with ease. If he does return as the Cajuns expect him to, they'll have the upper hand.
Louisiana-Lafayette was knocking on the door of the Top 25 while Broadway was healthy. And while Tulane's resurgence has been a great story this season, the Green Wave can't matchup with a full-strength Cajun group.
Louisiana head coach Mark Hudspeth has spent several seasons building a consistent contender in Lafayette and that will show, as long as Broadway plays.
Tulane will make it there eventually under Curtis Johnson, but it isn't quite up to par yet.
Prediction: Louisiana 31, Tulane 16