New Orleans Bowl
Pick – Analysis
These teams haven’t played each other since 1995, but they aren’t much different from one another. Nevada and Louisiana-LAfayette face off in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, where the Ragin’ Cajuns have won three straight times. The line at 5 dimes and betonline as of this writing on 12/10 is UL LAf -1.
UL LAfayette has been in this position before and yet pulled through. In 2011, they faced a different MWC team, San Diego State, and won 32-30 as a 6-point underdog. Last year, they played Tulane as a 1-point underdog and won again, 24-21. There’s a reason this line isn’t more despite Nevada coming from a better conference. A lot of bettors will be simply too afraid to take Nevada here against LAfayette, who is close to home.
It was a normal season for the Ragin’ Cajuns, struggling in tough non-Conference Games, while being one of the better teams in the Sun Belt. They finished 7-1 in the conference, although didn’t have to face Conference winner Georgia Southern.
Nevada had one more loss, but playing in the MWC is a bit tougher than the Sun Belt. Their best wins include BYU, San Diego State and Washington State. The Wolf Pack fought in almost every Game this year, losing close to the likes of Arizona, Boise State, Colorado State and Air Force.
In similar opponents, ULL lost 34-9 at Boise State, while Nevada lost 51-46 at home to the Broncos. These teams have oddly similar stats across the board and both are led by senior quarterbacks that have been starters for almost their entire careers. Much like in the previous New Orleans Bowls for UL LAfayette, this is set to be a fight.
Terrance Broadway leads the Ragin’ Cajuns for the third straight bowl. He wasn’t the starter for the 2011 win against SDSU that ended in a Game-winning 50-yard field goal. Broadway has kind of fallen off this season as he doesn’t have as many weapons around him, but he’s making it work. He has career lows in yards, completion percentage and TDs (12). They’ve taken more of a running approach this year which is a good reason for those numbers, though. Elijah McGuire (1,165 yards, 14 TDs) and Alonzo Harris (737 yards, 12 TDs) have carved through defenses, while Broadway also has a solid 634 yards.
Nevada usually has a good offense, but their defense is often their downfall and that’s the case again this season. In their losses, the Wolf Pack defense has been the head of the problem. Stopping this run Game will be their first task.
Leading the Wolf Pack offense is senior Cody Fajardo, whose numbers are right in line with what he usually does, although he is completing less than 60% of his passes. Fajardo is a pure dual-threat quarterback that runs the pistol offense, made popular by Colin Kaepernick. Fajardo may not be as good as Kaep, but he’s still a hand full for defenses. Fajardo has thrown for 18 TDs while also rushing for 997 yards and 13 TDs on the year. Don Jackson (932 yards, 7 TDs) and James Butler (620 yards, 5 TDs) split time in the backfield.
UL LAfayette doesn’t have a great defense either and struggled mightily in out of Conference Games. The fact that Nevada doesn’t have much of a defense should allow the Ragin’ Cajuns to stay in the Game, which has been the case for them in previous bowls before winning in the end.
The Wolf Pack are 4-1 ATS in their last five vs. the Sun Belt and 6-1 ATS in their last seven Games on turf. The Ragin’ Cajuns are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven Games overall, 15-5 ATS vs. a team with a winning record, but 2-5 ATS in their last seven non-Conference Games. This is considered a neutral-site Game, but don’t forget it’s only a couple hOurs from the UL LAfayette campus.
NOT A KEY RELEASE – However as an opinion only – Nevada -1
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