November 10, 2012; Gainesville FL, USA; Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns quarterback Terrance Broadway (8) points during the first quarter against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Bowl-Preview, Pick and Analysis-2012 College Football

Can the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns get their second consecutive New Orleans Bowl win? Check my pick and preview below to find out how I think they’ll get the win over the East Carolina Pirates in the Superdome. In this photo running back Alonzo Harris (46) is congratulated by teammates after he scored a goal against the Florida Gators. Photo by Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In the bowl matchup with some of the most unique team nicknames as the East Corolina Pirates head to the Big Easy to take on the Rajin Cajuns of Louisiana-LafayetteIt’s the second consecutive R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl for ULL after they won last year’s thriller over San Diego State. If your a fan of passing offense, this is a game you’ll enjoy so make sure you don’t miss whas should be an entertaining early bowl game.

When to Watch: Saturday, December 22, 12:00 PM ET

Where to Watch: Live on ESPN from the Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana

What to Watch for…

Oct 4, 2012; Orlando, FL, USA; East Carolina Pirates quarterback Shane Carden (5) communicates with running back Vintavious Cooper (21) before the snap during the first quarter against the UCF Knights at Bright House Networks Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

When East Carolina has the ball: Quarterback Shane Carden has thrown for an average of 300+ yards and three touchdowns during the Pirates three-game winning streak. The ECU passing attack ranks 35th in the nation averaging 272.8 yards per game. The Pirates not only have a 1,000 yard receiver in Sophomore Justin Hardy but also a 1,000 yard rusher as well with Junior Vintavious Cooper. They have a fairly balanced attack that has averaged over 30 points a game this season. The Pirates offense has only scored less than 20 points two times this season (both losses) against South Carolina and North Carolina.

The Pirates won’t face a defense the caliber of either Carolina school in this one as the ULL defense has struggled to slow down their opposition’s passing attack so far this year. The Ragin’ Cajuns ranked 114th against the pass and have allowed opponents to score 21 points or more in each of their last seven games. ULL has rapidly improved though as they work in seven new starters this season. They have excelled lately at forcing turnovers and ECU did turn the ball over 21 times this season (-1 margin), so watch for the Cajuns to force the issue as they combat a potent Pirate offense.

When UL-Lafayette has the ball: The Cajuns offense ranks in the top 50 in scoring, passing yards, and rushing yards. In their eight wins, ULL has scored over 30 points in each game, but in their four losses they’ve scored between 20-30 in each. The attack is led by Terrance Broadway who took over the job when Blain Gautier went down with a broken hand earlier this year. Broadway is a transfer from Houston who brings a dual-threat to this offense after running for 661 yards and passing for 2,526 yards despite only starting eight games.

Like the ULL defense, the ECU defense has struggled defending the pass as they rank 108th against the pass. The Pirates defense allowed 59 points against Marshall in their regular season finale and 56 to Navy earlier in the season. They could be in for another 50 points allowed if they’re not able to get pressure on Broadway while containing him as well.

Who to Watch for (NFL Prospects)

There aren’t any top-level prospects but ULL CB Melvin White could be a nice late-round pick for a team looking to improve their size and depth in the defensive backfield. ECU linebacker Derrell Johnson and Ragin’ Cajuns DT Cordian Hagans are also defensive contributors that could be practice squad or depth picks late in the draft if they can impress in the bowl and pre-draft workouts.

Final Verdict

I just don’t think that East Carolina will be able to stop the Ragin’ Cajuns potent offense. Late in the year, the ULL defense started forcing turnovers which will post likely be the deciding factor in this game. I think a late turnover and conversion into points makes the difference here. The experience from last year and the home field advantage afforded by playing in an in-state bowl also should tilt things UL-Lafayette’s direction.

The line right now is six points in favor of the Cajuns  which makes it a tough call, but I think they’ll cover in a game with plenty of points piling up for both sides.

Tags: Bowl Mania Bowl Picks East Carolina Pirates Football Louisiana Lafayette Ragin Cajuns New Orleans Bowl

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