Nevada Wolf Pack (7-5 SU, 7-5 ATS) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns(8-4 SU, 6-5-1 ATS)
College Football Bowl Game
Date and Time: Saturday, December 20, 11:00am EST
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome – New Orleans, Louisiana
by Bob, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NEV +1/ULL -1
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On Saturday, December 20th, we will have the 13th edition of the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. This season we will see the Nevada Wolf Pack take on the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns. This is the fourth season in a row that the Cajuns have played in this game. Just last season, they beat the Tulane Green Wave 24-21 for their third consecutive New Orleans Bowl title. If they beat Nevada, that makes number four.
The Ragin Cajuns of Louisiana Lafayette come into this game as the one point favorite over Nevada. The total combined points are set at 61, you can find it as low as 60 in some books however. Both teams are about the same against the spread this season. Nevada is 7-5 ATS, while UL-Lafayette is 6-5-1 ATS in 2014. Bowl games are always tricky because you never know exactly how motivated teams are this time of year, especially when the game is pretty pointless…like this one.
The Nevada Wolf Pack comes into this game at 7-5 overall and a 3rd place finish in the Mountain West Conference. In conference, the Wolf Pack went 4-4. In 2014, Nevada did not play the toughest schedule. They only played one team that ended the 2014 regular season ranked in the top 25, the Arizona Wildcats. Even though Nevada did not get the win, they only lost to the Wildcats by a single touchdown, 35-28. That was not bad considering that Arizona ended up playing for the Pac-12 title against Oregon. The strength of this Nevada football team is their running game. Ranked 32nd in the nation, the Wolf Pack are averaging over 215 yards per game on the ground. The key to this game for Nevada is to control the ball, but they need to improve on the passing game. They are only averaging about 195 yards per game in the air. They will need to be a little more balanced in this one to get the upset win over UL-Lafayette.
The Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns have been a permanent fixture in the New Orleans Bowl. They have won three straight and are looking for number four over the Nevada Wolf Pack. On the 2014 season, the Cajuns went 8-4 but in their own conference(Sun Belt), they went 7-1 and finished 2nd place. Just like Nevada, the Ragin Cajuns success comes from their running game. Averaging nearly 230 yards a game on the ground, UL-Lafayette ranks 26th in all of college football in this area. Also like Nevada, they do not throw the ball well. Ranking just 102nd in FBS, ULL is not even reaching the 190 yards per game mark in the air. The rest of the Cajuns 2014 statistics are pretty average. Ranking anywhere from 55th-75th in most team categories, Lafayette is pretty average on paper. With that said however, the Ragin Cajuns have won seven of their last eight football games, and their only loss was to Appalachian State. This team has been winning lately, and a winning culture goes a long way in college football.
I mentioned earlier how tough bowl game were to gauge. I am going to base this pick on history, and I never ever do this. Louisiana Lafayette has won this bowl game three years in a row now, so to me it is obvious that they show up for this game. I truly believe they are the better team to begin with and this is pretty much a home game for the Cajuns. I like ULL to take down Nevada fairly easily. Look for a 31-20 type final with the Ragin Cajuns taking home their 4th straight New Orleans Bowl title.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: PICK THE RAGIN CAJUNS TO COVER THE -1 SPREAD, BUT ALSO TAKE UNDER THE POSTED TOTAL OF 61 POINTS!