EAST CAROLINA PIRATES (8-4)
vs. UL-LAFAYETTE RAGIN' CAJUNS (8-4)
New Orleans Bowl - New Orleans, LA
Kickoff: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Louisiana-Lafayette -5, Total: 65.5
Louisiana-Lafayette will end its season close to home once again when they play in their second straight New Orleans Bowl Saturday versus East Carolina.
Both teams enter this game with high-scoring, three-game win streaks. ECU has scored 47.0 PPG during its surge while ULL has 39.3 PPG during its three-game ride. However, the Pirates have been held to 20 points or less during a three-game bowl losing skid. The Ragin' Cajuns have appeared in just one bowl since 1970, winning last year's New Orleans Bowl 32-30 over SDSU with a Brett Baer 50-yard FG as time expired. East Carolina QB Shane Carden has 17 TD passes in his past seven games, while UL-Lafayette QB Terrence Broadway has 349 total YPG in his past seven contests.
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Carden averages a solid 243 total YPG, but that number has risen significantly in the past five games to 326 YPG. Although Carden prefers to stay in the pocket, he does have four rushing touchdowns in the past two games, including 3 TD in the 65-59 double overtime win over Marshall in the last game. ECU leaves most of the ground duty to RB Vintavious Cooper who ranks fifth in Conference USA with 86 rushing YPG. In the past five games, Cooper has rushed for 572 yards (114 YPG) on 5.4 YPC with seven total touchdowns. It's a good thing the offense has been so efficient lately, because ECU's defense has surrendered 40.2 PPG over the past five games including two 50-point outbursts. The passing defense has been burned all year (272 YPG, 108th in FBS), but the rushing defense (146 YPG, 46th in FBS) has been excellent over the past three games, allowing just 251 yards on 78 carries (3.2 YPC).
Broadway has been a true dual-threat QB during ULL's three-game win streak, completing 66% of his passes for 736 yards and 4 TDs, while rushing for 354 yards on just 42 carries (8.4 YPC) and 3 TD. He's the biggest reason the team has piled up 118 points (39.3 PPG) and 1,572 total yards (524 YPG) during the win streak. Sophomore RB Alonzo Harris is also producing nicely with back-to-back 100-yard games, totaling 231 yards on just 31 carries (7.5 YPC) with 3 TD. Harris rushed for a pedestrian 62 yards on 15 carries (4.1 YPC) in last year's New Orleans Bowl win over San Diego State. While the Cajuns offense is in good shape, the defense has some issues, especially defending the pass where they allow 284 passing YPG (10th-most in FBS). ULL's run defense has made great strides though, limiting the past five opponents to 138 rushing YPG on 4.3 YPC. The Ragin' Cajuns also rank second in the Sun Belt in both sacks (2.2 per game) and Tackles For Loss (6.5 per game).