R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: East Carolina vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

The bowl action on Friday, Dec. 22, kicks off from the Louisiana Superdome with a matchup of East Carolina from Conference USA and Louisiana-Lafayette from the Sun Belt.

The Pirates won five of their final six regular-season games and head to the postseason at 8-4 overall and 7-1 in C-USA, tying for the East Division title. East Carolina brings a potent offense to the Crescent City, led by quarterback Shane Carden, who has completed nearly 67 percent of his passes for 2,838 yards and 21 touchdowns. Carden accounted for six touchdowns in the Pirates’ regular season finale, a wild 65-59 double overtime victory over Marshall on Nov. 23. The Pirates are the only team in Conference USA with both a 1,000-yard rusher (Vintavious Cooper) and a 1,000-yard receiver (Justin Hardy). Hardy ranks second in C-USA with 76 receptions, including a school-record 16 against Marshall. On defense, ECU has 25 sacks, led by outside linebacker Derrell Jackson with seven. The Pirates have been opportunistic on defense and special teams with four returns for touchdowns this season.

The trip to face Louisiana-Lafayette in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl will be East Carolina’s sixth bowl appearance in the past seven years. The Pirates, under third-year coach Ruffin McNeill, have shown that they can score points this season. In their past five wins, they’ve scored 40 or more points four times.

Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4) has a difficult act to follow. In last season’s New Orleans Bowl, the school’s first-ever bowl appearance, the Ragin’ Cajuns defeated San Diego State 32-30 on Brett Baer’s 50-yard field goal as time expired.

Louisiana-Lafayette started this year 4-1, scoring 40 or more points in three of those games. After hitting a bit of a lull in October, the Ragin’ Cajuns finished the regular season winning four of their last five to finish second in the Sun Belt Conference. The Ragin’ Cajuns feature one of the Sun Belt’s most exciting offenses, led by sophomore quarterback Terrance Broadway. While ULL’s defense struggled for most of the year, the offense certainly helped the Ragin’ Cajuns win some shootouts as they averaged more than 440 yards per game.

WagerWeb.com Opening Line: UL Lafayette -6 (64) Check our current lines

WagerWeb.com trends: Pirates are 1-8 ATS in their last 9 games following a S.U. win. Pirates are 0-5 ATS vs. a team with a winning record. Ragin’ Cajuns are 8-2 ATS vs. a team with a winning record. Ragin’ Cajuns are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 non-conference games. Ragin’ Cajuns are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.

East Carolina Team Stats

Rushing Offense: 134.75 (92nd in nation, 9th in conference)

Passing Offense: 272.75 (37, 5)

Total Offense: 407.50 (59, 6)

Scoring Offense: 31.25 (46, 6)

Rushing Defense: 145.67 (46, 4)

Pass Defense: 271.67 (105, 11)

Total Defense: 417.33 (78, 5)

Scoring Defense: 30.67 (84, 6)

Turnover Margin: -0.08 (61, 5)

Sacks: 2.08 (50, 4)

Sacks Allowed: 2.33 (85, 5)

Louisiana-Lafayette Team Stats

Rushing Offense: 178.55 (47th in nation, 4th in conference)

Passing Offense: 264.27 (43, 4)

Total Offense: 442.82 (34, 3)

Scoring Offense: 34.82 (34, 3)

Rushing Defense: 143.45 (42, 4)

Pass Defense: 275.27 (107, 9)

Total Defense: 418.73 (80, 7)

Scoring Defense: 28.18 (64, 6)

Turnover Margin: -.27 (76, 7)

Sacks: 2.18 (46, 2)

Sacks Allowed: 1.09 (18, 3)