New Orleans Bowl Odds
East Carolina (67) vs UL-Lafayette (-6.5)
Perhaps the worst matchup of the entire bowl season as a weak Conference USA squad faces off against a decent but unspectacular team from the Sun Belt. East Carolina was once a borderline national power, but the talent level here has slipped badly in recent years and the Pirates only end up in bowl games because their league is filled with some of the weakest programs in the country. The Pirates were 8-4 this year despite the fact that they were outgained by their collective opposition! The East Carolina defense gave up 417 yards per game and 31 points per contest. The Pirate attack was fairly productive as they gained 408 yards and 31 points per game, but obviously this team won a LOT of close ball games to finish 8-4. The only team East Carolina beat that posted a winning record this season was tiny Appalachian State!!!
The Pirates won by 10 points or less against an ugly parade of weak sisters including UTEP, Tulane, Marshall, UAB and winless Southern Miss. The stars here are QB Shane Carden, wideout Justin Hardy and running back Vontavious Cooper, the latter of whom was a surprise 1,000-yard runner for the Pirates. Quarterback Carden was also a bit of a pleasant surprise as he completed nearly 67 percent of his passes with a solid 21/9 TD-to-INT ratio. Wide receiver Hardy is one of the best players in the country that you don’t know and he caught 83 passes this year, more than twice as many receptions as any other East Carolina pass receiver. Defensively, the Pirates are decent against the run but have pretty serious problems when it comes to stopping enemy passers.
On the Lafayette side of the ball, the Ragin’ Cajuns also posted an 8-4 record against a so-so schedule, but did look somewhat more impressive in the process which is why Las Vegas has installed them as a modest favorite here. Offense is definitely the name of the game for Lafayette as they scored 35 points per game and put up an impressive 444 yards per contest in total offense. And when you consider that two of this team’s losses came to national powers Florida and Oklahoma State, you have to give this team a lot of credit for the season they had. Quarterback Terrance Broadway battled injuries all year, but was still one of the elite performers in the Sun Belt Conference as he presents enemy defenses with a dual threat as both a passer and a runner. The talent level at running back and wide receiver is also pretty good for a team playing in such a weak league.
On defense, Lafayette gave up 28 points per game and was actually really solid against the run. But where Lafayette struggles is versus the pass and this secondary will be presented with a big challenge when they face Hardy and the East Carolina passing attack. This could turn out to be a fairly entertaining game in what should be called the “Nobody Cares Bowl” based on the backgrounds of these two teams! Looks like these two teams will want to prove to everyone that they actually care about being in this bowl.
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