The Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (8-4) will be making the trip to the Superdome for the third straight season after finishing as co-champions of the Sun Belt Conference.
They will take on New Orleans’ own Tulane (7-5), which is laying -1 in its first bowl appearance since 2002.
Point spread: The Green Wave opened as one-point favorites on the New Orleans Bowl odds menu; the total had not been set as of Dec. 12. (Line updates and matchup report)
Odds Shark computer prediction: 32.0-28.5 Ragin' Cajuns
Why Louisiana-Lafayette can cover the spread
The Ragin’ Cajuns have owned the New Orleans Bowl for the past two years, with victories over San Diego State and East Carolina. They bring with them the No. 1 rushing attack in the Sun Belt, headed by Alonzo Harris with 868 yards and 13 touchdowns. That will allow the Cajuns to control the tempo of the game.
Coach Mark Hudspeth said he expects to have quarterback Terrance Broadway back for the bowl game, despite breaking his arm in the loss to UL-Monroe. Whether it’s Broadway or freshman backup Brooks Haack, they should have no trouble passing on Tulane’s secondary that has allowed 234 passing yards per game.
The computer likes them to cover the New Orleans Bowl odds, which means they will win the game outright if the computer is correct.
Why Tulane can cover the spread
The Green Wave have been good to investors this year, going 9-3 against the spread. They enter the New Orleans Bowl on a three-game cover streak and are 7-1 ATS since October. Despite finishing below Louisiana-Lafayette in most statistical categories, Tulane played much tougher competition in Conference USA.
Tulane matches up well with the Ragin’ Cajuns’ potent rushing attack, with one of the nation’s most stifling run defenses that allows merely 129 yards per game. Nick Montana, son of Hall of Famer Joe, figures to have a good game against the Ragin’ Cajuns’ 81st ranked pass defense.
Tulane has been through the gauntlet of a much-improved Conference USA and has emerged battle-tested. Louisiana-Lafayette ran rampant on the Sun Belt, but the Green Wave’s front seven is another beast. Rice, which averages 240 rushing yards per game, was only able to muster 124 rushing yards against Tulane.
Louisiana-Lafayette is undefeated when it breaks 200 yards rushing, but it won’t hit that mark. If Broadway is forced to throw, he has proven to be turnover-prone. Combine that with Tulane’s ball-hawking defense, which ranks third in the country in takeaways with 33, and the turnover battle could decide this game.
The OVER has been the best bet in recent years (eight New Orleans Bowl OVERs in a row).
- Past 8 New Orleans Bowls played OVER the total
- Tulane is 7-1 ATS past eight games overall
- Tulane won and covered both bowl games since 1998
- U-L Lafayette won and covered both prior bowl games