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First Look: New Orleans Bowl

Louisiana-Lafayette returns to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl for a second consecutive year on Dec. 22, taking on East Carolina.

The clash at NOLA’s Superdome will see two sides that fared well within their respective divisions but came up just short in terms of championships.

The Essentials

Date: Sat., Dec. 22

Game time: 12:00 PM ET

Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA

East Carolina – Record: 8-4, 7-1 C-USA ATS: 6-6-0 Streak: Win 3 Bowl Record: 6-7 (.462)

Louisiana-Lafayette – Record: 8-4, 6-2 Sun Belt ATS: 7-5-0 Streak: Win 3 Bowl Record: 1-0 (1.000)

Road to the New Orleans Bowl: East Carolina

Shane Carden and the East Carolina Pirates will be looking for a first bowl win in four attempts.

East Carolina notched up its best season since winning consecutive Conference USA championships in 2008 and 2009. A win at the New Orleans Bowl will match the school’s winning total for each of those two seasons.

The Pirates opened the season with a 3-2 record. A win over Appalachian State was combined with a pair of wins over C-USA bottom-feeders UTEP and Southern Mississippi. A pair of convincing losses to South Carolina and North Carolina suggested that the team may have some way to go if it’s to achieve success when it jumps to the Big East in 2014.

In Week 6 the Pirates made the trip to Orlando to take on Central Florida. The Knights took care of business, handing East Carolina a 40-20 loss, its first – and as it would turn out, last – loss within the conference.

With a 3-3 record, Ruffin MCNeill’s side would go on to win five of its remaining six games. That one loss came at the hands of a visiting Navy side that ran for 512 yards and six touchdowns.

Those five wins all came against conference opposition but that loss in Orlando would prove costly. UCF tallied an identical 7-1 conference record to East Carolina, but advanced to the C-USA Championship Game by way of that head-to-head victory, leaving the Pirates second in the East Division.

Road to the New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette

Mark Hudspeth with lead the Ragin' Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette out in a second consecutive New Orleans Bowl.

Over in the Sun Belt, the Ragin’ Cajuns got off to an impressive 4-1 start, that one loss coming against Oklahoma State in Week 3.

The following four games would prove decisive for Mark Hudspeth’s side. A conference loss to North Texas was followed by a home loss to Arkansas State before a win over rivals Louisiana-Monroe tallied another ‘W’.

On Nov. 10, the Cajuns made the trip to Jacksonville to take on Florida. The Cajuns held a shock 20-13 lead late in the fourth quarter but the Gators managed to tie the game with 1:42 left on the clock. The game was then decided with just two ticks left when Cajuns kicker Caleb Sturgis has a punt blocked by Loucheiz Purifoy which was returned 36 yards by Jelani Jenkins for a game-winning score.

With a 5-4 record, Louisiana-Lafayette would go onto win its remaining three games, all divisional games, compiling an 8-4 overall record and a 6-2 conference record.

The Ragin’ Cajuns would finish runners up in the Sun Belt to a Arkansas State side that held a 7-1 conference record, making that loss to the Red Wolves back on Oct. 23, the decisive factor in determining the champion.


It’s been 22 years since the Pirates and Ragin’ Cajuns last met. A lot has changed since then. The Cajuns are no longer Southwestern Louisiana, and they are no longer playing in the Southland Conference or as an Independent. East Carolina is no longer an Independent either.

Between 1977 and 1990, the two sides met 10 times with the Louisiana side taking a 6-4 lead in the head-to-head. East Carolina was victorious the last time the two met, snapping a four-game Ragin’ Cajuns win streak in the process.

Louisiana-Lafayette’s appearance in the New Orleans Bowl was its bow in major bowl competition. The Cajuns had only previously appeared in the Grantland Rice Bowl (1970) and the Oil Bowl (1944), both minor bowl games.

The Cajuns defeated San Diego State in epic fashion, conceding a touchdown in the final minute before winning the game on a 50-yard field goal in the dying seconds.

East Carolina returns to postseason action after missing last year. In 2010, the Pirates were hammered 51-20 by Maryland in the Military Bowl. The Pirates are 6-7 all-time in major bowl games and 1-2 in minor bowls. The school has lost three straight bowl games and five of the last six.

Opening Lines

Bookmakers opened with Louisiana-Lafayette as favorites. The spread opened at four points. The over/under opened at 67.

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

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