New Orleans Bowl Preview
East Carolina (8-4) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)
December 22, 12 p.m. ET (ESPN)
What to expect with the Pirates: East Carolina’s strength is its passing game, and there’s no getting around that. The Pirates rank 35th in the NCAA in yards through the air (272.8 per game) and have found the end zone 23 times this way. Opponents know where QB Shane Carden will be throwing the ball: Wideout Justin Hardy has 83 receptions for 1,046 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, while no one else has over 354 yards.
LA-Lafayette has been one of the worst teams against the pass (111th overall), so ECU should find a lot of success here – as it has all year.
What to expect with the Rajin’ Cajuns: Much of the same. LA-Lafayette isn’t too shabby at throwing the ball either, and can light up the scoreboard in a hurry against an equally-bad ECU secondary. The difference here is that the Rajin’ Cajuns have a potent ground game behind backs Alonzo Harris and Terrance Broadway, which has been effective all season.
Synopsis: This game has all the makings of a barn burner. Neither team has respectable defensive units, while both have high-scoring, play-making offenses. East Carolina has scored 40 or more points in four of its last six appearances, and LA-Lafayette averaged nearly 35 points per game the entire year.
Turnovers will be costly and mistakes will be taken advantage of. Whichever team makes fewer of them will come out on top – and that could go either way. I give the slight edge to East Carolina for its sheer offensive explosiveness and the fact that it has won five of its last six games, but this could really go either way.
East Carolina 35, LA-Lafayette 34 --- via Bowl Predictions