New Orleans Bowl Primer: La.-Lafayette vs. Tulane
Louisiana-Lafayette placed 11 players on the all-Sun Belt Conference teams, but one of its most important pieces, quarterback Terrance Broadway, is doubtful with a broken arm.
Broadway hasn't lived up to the lofty expectations he created in 2012 as a sophomore, when he completed 65.4 percent of his passes, threw 17 touchdowns against nine interceptions and ran for 769 yards and nine scores. Before missing the regular-season finale, Broadway's numbers were down slightly, but he led the Rajun' Cajuns to an 8-3 mark. Without him, the team lost at South Alabama, 30-8, behind two freshman quarterbacks, as an outright Sun Belt Conference championship went down the drain.
Meanwhile, Tulane will try to prevent Louisiana-Lafayette from claiming three consecutive New Orleans Bowls in its home stadium, the Louisiana Superdome, before the Green Wave move to an on-campus venue in 2014. Joe Montana's son, quarterback Nick Montana, spent much of the season nursing a shoulder injury, but should be healthy for the bowl game.
If you're not into lower-tier bowl games, you probably care less, but this one has meaning within the state of Louisiana and to college football's smaller FBS conferences.
Motivation: The Rajun' Cajuns want to disprove their late-season collapse and show they can win without Broadway, but more importantly, they're fighting for conference respect. Five of the Sun Belt's seven bowl-eligible teams did not receive invites, despite commissioner Karl Benson begging at least two bowls with an offer for petty cash.
If You've Never Seen Them: This team loves to run the ball under Mark Hudspeth. Alonzo Harris and Elijah McGuire offer speed out of the backfield, spearheading an offense that averages 34.6 points per game. The running backs have combined for 1,686 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns, and they'll be squeezed to perform without Broadway.
Weakness: The defense is nothing special, but three freshman QBs combined to complete just 9-of-26 for 143 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the loss to USA. Tulane will dare them to throw, and 6-foot-4 Jamal Robinson, the only receiver with more than 400 yards this season, caught just one pass in the only game without Broadway.
Motivation: The Green Wave won just four games combined the last two seasons and had to watch Louisiana-Lafayette celebrate bowl victories in its home stadium. Curtis Johnson has the team bowling for the first time in 11 years, and after beating East Carolina and losing to C-USA champion Rice by four points, they won't want to drop a game to the cute Sun Belt team two hours West on I-10.
If You've Never Seen Them: The secondary is tough, with four all-conference performers, led by Lorenzo Doss and his seven interceptions. All the takeaways led to a +12 turnover margin, tied for ninth in the country. The run defense also allows just 120.0 yards per game, 16th nationally.
Weakness: The offense is plodding rather than explosive, rushing for just 3.6 yards per carry. Montana has only completed 53.1 percent of his passes for just 5.7 yards per attempt. Combine the two and you understand why the Green Wave find trouble scoring points if they don't win the turnover battle, which is what happened in a 10-7 loss to UTSA.
Las Vegas Hilton Line: Tulane -1.5.
Related: Scouting The New Orleans Bowl