New Orleans Bowl Pick
The New Orleans Bowl hasn’t been too high scoring in recent Games with Louisiana-LAfayette winning the last Four, but this one will surely have points with two high-flying, low-level schools. Arkansas State had no competition in the Sun Belt, while Louisiana Tech faltered in its chance to win the C-USA’s West division. There isn’t much to separate these teams and the Bulldogs are currently a -1.5 point favorite at 5 Dimes Sportsbook.
Led by senior quarterback Fredi Knighten, Arkansas State cruised through the Sun Belt, winning every Game by double digits including a 40-27 win at Appalachian State, the second-place team. However, the Red Wolves were just 1-3 in non-Conference play and struggled when faced with any kind of resistance. A 37-7 loss at Toledo was disappointing, while losses against USC and Missouri were to be expected.
Louisiana Tech was kind of in the same boat, but two of its losses were to the two best teams in Conference USA. Road non-Conference losses to Kansas State and Mississippi State were expected, but they at least competed in those Games.
This Game will have plenty of points as both offenses can Scoreand both defenses have struggled against above average offenses.
Fredi Knighten has been great for the Red Wolves, but this is a team that still focuses on the ground Game. They have three running backs that all average above six yards per carry with Michael Gordon leading the way with 1,055 yards and Johnston White with 14 touchdowns. Knighten is mobile as well and ran for 358 yards on the year. Knighten still leaves a lot to be desired in the passing Game, completing 54.7% of his passes, but the reason for this team’s success this year, more so than 2014, is a power running Game.
The problem is that Louisiana Tech has a Top 10 rush defense, allowing 114.5 yards per Game and 3.4 yards per carry. These numbers are skewed a bit because of weaker competition, but the Bulldogs’ rush defense is considerably better than their pass defense.
On the other end, LA. Tech is a bit more balanced with dual-threat QB Jeff Driskel, who has revived his career since his days at Florida. Driskel is having a nice season overall, throwing for 24 TDs and rushing for five more to go with 307 yards on the ground. His experience has helped this offense a ton, and his rapport with receiver Trent Taylor (1,133 yards, 8 TDs) has been unstoppable. But for the most part, this team still depends on its ground Game. Running back Kenneth Dixon has 1,322 total yards and 22 TDs on the year and when he struggles, so does the team. He did close to nothing against Southern Miss, and the Bulldogs lost big in that Game.
Louisiana Tech played in the tougher Conference and Arkansas State never really showed up against a good team all year outside of the Sun Belt. The advantage on the surface goes to the Bulldogs, who are 4-0 ATS in their last Four against the Sun Belt. The Red Wolves are 4-0 ATS in their last Four Games overall (all Conference Games).
Our Pick – Note the turnover differential for both teams. Ark St +11 and Las Tech -2.
When we run Our model for this Game using only the last 7 Games, it comes up an Ark St win by 5 with 81 total points being scored. A case of going with the hotter team. Ark St +1.5