By The Numbers: New Orleans Bowl

Shane Carden and the East Carolina Pirates will hope its offense can outmatch that of Louisiana-Lafayette, as the two sides meet on Saturday in the New Orleans Bowl.

Parity will be the keyword as East Carolina and Louisiana-Lafayette meet at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to contest the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl this coming Saturday (Dec. 22).

Last week Betting Sports.com took a first look at the New Orleans Bowl. This week we explore the numbers and check out what to expect when these two sides hook up.

East Carolina: Offense

In a season that saw the side finish second to Central Florida in Conference USA’s East Division, passing proved vital for East Carolina.

The Pirates threw for 272.8 yards per game in 2012, ranking Ruffin McNeill’s side 35th in the nation. Quarterback Shane Carden – who replaced season starter Rio Johnson in the second half of a Week 2 loss at South Carolina – threw for a total of 2,838 yards on 248/371 passing, tallying 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Sophomore Justin Hardy led the side in receiving, catching 87.2 yards per game and amassing a total of 10 touchdowns.

The Pirates’ rushing game was less effective, averaging 134.8 yards per game (93rd in Division I). Vintavious Cooper led the side with an average of 85.8 yards per game, breaking the plane of the goal line seven times. Carden led the side with eight rushing touchdowns.

Leaders: Passing Shane Carden (2,838 yards) Rushing Vintavious Cooper (1,030 yards) Receiving Justin Hardy (1,046 yards)

East Carolina: Defense

East Carolina’s defensive strength came against the run. The side gave up 145.7 rushing yards per game (46th), a number that might have been significantly less were it not for Navy running up 512 yards in one game.

The side forced 10 fumbles. Only two of these fumbles were recovered, although both went for touchdowns.

The Pirates had less success against the pass, conceding 271.7 yards per game (108th). The team tallied nine interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

Leaders: Tackles Damon Magazu (37 solo, 35 assisted, 72 total) Sacks Derrell Johnson (7) Interceptions Chip Thompson (3)

Louisiana-Lafayette: Offense

Offensively, the Ragin’ Cajuns posted similar passing numbers to East Carolina. Mark Hudspeth’s side averaged 256.3 passing yards per game, just 16.5 fewer than the Pirates.

Terrence Broadway – who like Carden replaced the season starter early in the season – threw for 2,531 yards on 185/283 passing. The sophomore collected 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Broadway’s favorite target was Harry Peoples, who caught 61 passes on the season for 774 yards and eight touchdowns. Darryl Surgent (559), Javone Lawson (545), and Jamal Robinson (511) all broke the 500-yard mark receiving.

Louisiana-Lafayette’s running game complemented its passing game. The side averaged 187.3 yards per game (39th). Running back Alonzo Harris led the way with 761 yards while Broadway chipped in 661 yards of his own. Both players tallied eight rushing touchdowns.

The Ragin’ Cajuns averaged 34.8 points per game, good enough for 33rd in the nation.

Leaders: Passing Terrence Broadway (2,531 yards) Rushing Alonzo Harris (761 yards) Receiving Harry Peoples (774 yards)

Louisiana-Lafayette: Defense

Louisiana-Lafayette’s defensive numbers are almost identical to East Carolina’s.

Husdpeth’s side gave up 283.9 passing yards per game (115th), just 12.2 more than the Pirates. The side conceded 143.9 yards on the ground (44th), 1.8 less than this week’s opponent. As a team, the Cajuns gave up 27.6 points per game (61st), 3.1 less than East Carolina.

As a team, Louisiana-Lafayette snatched 10 interceptions and returned one for a touchdown. The team forced 13 fumbles, recovering three, one of which went for a touchdown.

The two sides really do share parity on the defensive side of the ball.

Leaders: Tackles Justin Anderson (67 solo, 27 assisted, 94 total) Sacks Christian Ringo (7) Interceptions Rodney Gillis (4)

Advantage…?

Bowl organizers made a good selection for competitors as there really is little to separate the two sides in terms of numbers.

Defensively there will be little advantage for either side, and as both have conceded points this year, that makes the New Orleans Bowl a potential candidate for a shootout, particularly as both sides score more than 30 per game.

The biggest advantage may go to Louisiana-Lafayette in terms of the rushing game. The Ragin’ Cajuns averaged more than 50 yards per game more than the Pirates on the ground. However, the Pirates were better at defending the run than the pass. Still, a good running game will open up the play action game.

Oddsmakers believe that Louisiana-Lafayette has the advantage. The Cajuns opened as four-point favorites. Bettors have backed the Cajuns, who now find themselves as six-point favorites.

Stay tuned to BettingSports.com for more on the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, ahead of kickoff on Saturday (Dec. 22)

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