New Orleans Bowl: Battle for in-state bragging rights

PHOTO: USA Today Sports

Tulane Green Wave (7-5) vs Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns (8-4)

Saturday, Dec 21st @ 9 PM EST

Line: Tulane by 2.5

How Louisiana got here: When head coach Mark Hudspeth took over the Cajuns, they had not won more than six games since the 1993 season. Hudspeth has won at least 8 games every season (if he wins this game he will have three consecutive 9 win seasons) and has led them to three straight New Orleans bowls. 

How Tulane got here: Like the Cajuns under Hudspeth, when Curtis Johnson took over Tulane in 2012 it had been a while since the Green Wave was relevant in college football. Prior to this season, the last bowl trip for Tulane was 2002. In just his second year, Johnson has turned this team around and has gone from 2-11 in 2011 to 7-5 this season.

For Louisiana to win: In their November 30th loss to Louisiana-Monroe, QB Terrance Broadway broke a bone in his forearm and has since had surgery. He hopes to play in the bowl game but whether he will play or not is still up in the air. Louisiana's chances to win increase greatly with Broadway on the field. If Broadway can't go, the performance of back-up QB Brooks Haack could decide this game.

For Tulane to win: In their wins, Tulane has a turnover margin of +2.14. Limiting turnovers and taking some away for themselves seems easy in theory, but if the Green Wave hope to win this game it will need to win the turnover battle. 

Key Players (Louisiana): Alonzo Harris and Elijah McGuire, RB. With Broadway in doubt (and if he does play he will no doubt be limited), a heavy part of the work load will go to the Cajuns RB tandem. As a true freshman, McGuire is averaging over eight yards per carry and can pop the big play for the Cajuns. McGuire and Harris are a solid one-two punch and stopping these two will be a huge key for Tulane.

Key Player (Tulane): Nick Montana, QB. Montana suffered a shoulder injury in October and when he came back he struggled in losses to FAU and UTSA throwing 0 TDs and 5 INTs. Since Montana has come back, Tulane is just 1-3. Montana has been up and down this season and has struggled with consistency (four games under 50% completions). The Green Wave needs to give Montana time (they've given up 29 sacks on the season) and he needs to make good decisions and take care of the football.

Key Stat: The Ragin' Cajuns have been to the last two New Orleans bowls and are 2-0. A win in this game will make it three straight New Orleans bowl victories for Hudspeth and his team.

About Kevin Causey

Dry humorist, craft beer enthusiast, occasionally unbiased SEC fan, UGA alumni, contributor for The Comeback.