2011 New Orleans Bowl Predictions: San Diego State vs. UL Lafayette

Doc MosemanCorrespondent IDecember 14, 2011

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 24: San Diego State's head coach Rocky Long watches the action on the field during the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium on September 24, 2011 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan defeated San Diego 28-7.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

The San Diego State Aztecs head into the Superdome this Saturday night as a road favorite in a neutral-site game when they take on the hometown UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns in this year’s New Orleans Bowl.

The kickoff for this Mountain West verses Sun Belt clash is set for 9 p.m. (EST) and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.

San Diego State rolled over UNLV 31-14 as a 16.5-point road favorite, and outlasted Fresno State 35-28 as a 7.5-point home favorite to close out the season with an overall record of 8-4 straight up.

The Aztecs failed to cover the spread in four of their final six games to finish 5-7 against the spread. The total went "over" in two of their final three games, but was an even 6-6 on the year.

One thing the Aztecs have been able to do very well this season is run the ball. They averaged 194.2 yards a game on the ground, led by Ronnie Hillman’s 287 carries for 1,656 yards and 19 touchdowns.

They have also done a good job at finding the end zone with an average of 28.8 points a game this season, including putting up a total of 101 points in their last three games.

UL-Lafayette closed out the season with two straight losses, but covered the spread as a double-digit road underdog in both. First the Ragin’ Cajuns dropped a 30-21 decision to Sun Belt champion Arkansas State as 11-point underdogs. Then they lost to Arizona, 45-37, as 13.5-point underdogs to finish the season at 8-4 both SU and ATS on the year.

The loss to the Red Wolves dropped their final record in the conference to 6-2 SU, and the total went "over" in eight of their 12 games this season.

This is another team that is no stranger to the end zone with an average of 32.3 points a game. The 21 points scored against Arkansas State was just the third time all season that UL Lafayette failed to score at least 30 points in a game.

The problem has been a defense that has trouble keeping its opponents out of the end zone as well. The Ragin’ Cajuns finished the regular season ranked 83rd in the country in points allowed, giving up an average of 29.8 points a game.

2011 New Orleans Bowl Odds

San Diego State opened as a 4.5-point favorite for this game, according to college football odds, and the line has held steady from the start.

The total line opened up at 59 points and has dipped slightly to 58.5, which just further enhances an "over" play in a matchup that feature two prolific offenses and defenses that have been suspect at times this year.

New Orleans Bowl Betting Trends

The Aztecs are 1-4 ATS in their last five games as a favorite, but they are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games followings an ATS loss. The total has stayed under in five of their last seven nonconference games.

The Ragin’ Cajuns are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games as an underdog and 5-0 ATS in their last five non-conference games. The total has gone over in seven of their last eight non-conference games.

2011 New Orleans Bowl Predictions

As mentioned before, both these teams know how to put points on the board, and given the fast track at the Superdome that should be once again be the case come Saturday night. Home-field advantage should also be a factor, with UL-Lafayette basically playing this game in their own backyard. That being the case, stick with the Ragin’ Cajuns to keep pace in this track meet to cover with the 4.5 points.

The New Orleans Bowl Free Pick: San Diego State 35, UL Lafayette 33