East Carolina Pirates (8-4 SU, 6-6 ATS) vs. UL Lafayette Rajin’ Cajuns (8-4 SU, 7-5 ATS)
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Preview
Date/Time: Saturday December 22nd, 2012. 12:00PM Eastern
Where: Superdome New Orleans, L.A.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ECU +5.5/ULL -5.5
Over/Under Total: 65
A pair of 8-4 mid majors will collide inside the Superdome when the East Carolina Pirates tangle with the Louisiana-Lafayette Rajin’ Cajuns at the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. The Rajin’ Cajuns will make their 2nd straight postseason trip to New Orleans. Last year Louisiana-Lafayette defeated San Diego State in an exciting 32-30 thriller and most expect another rousing match-up against East Carolina this year. At least for Louisiana-Lafayette, the Rajin’ Cajuns will not only seek their 2nd straight New Orleans Bowl trophy but will also have a chance to reach 9 wins for just the 4th time in school history.
The Pirates will enter New Orleans after a solid 8-4 season that was closed out with 5 victories in the final 6 games. East Carolina pulled out an exciting 65-59 double overtime classic over Marshall in the season finale to earn their first trip to the New Orleans Bowl. The Pirates will attempt to break a 4 game postseason losing skid when they meet the Rajin’ Cajuns with their last bowl win coming back in 2007.
Ironically both teams have a similar identity in the fact they strive on offense and struggle on defense. East Carolina has a trio of explosive playmakers on offense that has averaged 407 total yards per game on the season. QB Shane Carden leads the signal calling behind center with an accurate arm having hit 67% passing on the year for 2,838 yards with 21 scores and 9 picks. Carden has played pretty well during the 2nd half of the season and had a career high 439 passing yards in that shootout against Marshall. Carden also has an extremely talented wide out in Justin Hardy to target in the passing game. Hardy has caught 83 passes this year for 1,046 yards and 10 touchdowns. Together these two standouts hooked up for the majority of the East Carolina’s passing yards this year and look for them to hook up often against the Rajin’ Cajuns shaky defense.
Still, East Carolina has more weapons that just in the passing game as well. Running back Vintavious Cooper gives the offense balance and the ability to convert in short yardage situations. Cooper has been outstanding this year averaging 5.4 yards per touch with 7 scores. East Carolina has the passing offense to exploit Louisiana-Lafayette’s atrocious pass defense (111th in FBS) and Cooper should be able to have some opportunities to make big plays as well.
On the other side of the ball, Louisiana-Lafayette has an extremely talented offense as well that will be matched against an struggling East Carolina defense that has relinquished 30.6 points per game (84th in FBS). QB Terrance Broadway sets the tempo typically for the entire offense. Broadway is a dual threat guy that makes plays with his arm and feet. On the year, Broadway has hit 65.4% passing for 2,526 yards with 16 scores and 8 picks. Broadway has also added 661 rushing yards and 8 additional touchdowns on the ground.
The Rajin’ Cajuns run a spread option offense that uses a lot of misdirection and pulling blockers. Guys like WR Harry Peoples (61rec, 774yds, and 5TDs) and running back Alonzo Harris (149car, 761yds, and 8TDs) have the ability to make things happen on offense. In several games this season East Carolina has blown coverage in the secondary and given up more big plays against the run. Therefore, do not be surprised if the Rajin’ Cajuns have some opportunities to consistently move the football.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I expected the total for this game to be about a touchdown higher considering the play of both defenses. I realize both teams have extra time to prepare for each other but I do not feel like that will slow either offense. Recent trends also seem to point towards the over as well with East Carolina reaching the over mark in 4 of their last 5 games and Louisiana-Lafayette reaching the over mark in 4 of their last 6 games. Take the over 65!
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