One of the two bowl games being played today will feature the UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns taking on the Houston Cougars. We’ll be previewing the game before breaking down my best bet.
The Ragin’ Cajuns ended with regular season with a 6-6 record and were able to win two of their last three games. Chandler Fields, the starting quarterback in week one, lost his job early in the season, but after an injury at the position, Fields was back as the starter for the last two weeks and will be the starter for today’s game.
On the season, the Ragin’ Cajuns offense averaged 27.3 points per game and ran a balanced offensive approach. Starting running back Chris Smith led the team with 511 rushing yards and three touchdowns, and despite already declaring for the NFL draft, he will be playing today. Smith’s backup, Dre’lyn Washington, will also play a factor in the run game, as both guys had double-digit rushing attempts and a touchdown in UL Lafeyette's last game.
Defensively the Ragin’ Cajuns put together a solid season allowing an average of 24.3 points per game, however, at times, the defense would struggle to get stops against stronger opponents. Today will be a true test for them against the Houston Cougars offense that has only scored less than 30 points one time this season.
Behind starting quarterback Clayton Tune, the Cougars managed to rank 11th in the country in points per game and seventh in the country in passing yards per game, with an average of 321.1 yards. Tune’s favorite target Nathaniel Dell had 1,354 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns this season, and he will be playing today even though he already declared for the draft.
It may be surprising that a team with this much offensive firepower only finished with a 7-5 record, but defensively this team was a mess. Houston allowed an average of 430 yards per game and 5.8 yards per play.
My best bet for this game revolves around the point total, as I’ll be taking the Over of 56.5. The over was 9-2-1 this season in Houston games and 6-1-1 when they were favored like they are today.
Houston has proved they can consistently put up points all season, no matter how good their opponent's defense is. The pass-happy Cougars offensive line did an excellent job of protecting Tune all season, so with the Ragin’ Cajuns not having their starting defensive end today, the lack of pressure will help the Houston quarterback add to his passing touchdown total that already sits at 37.
UL Lafayette should also be able to find a lot of success on offense against this Cougars defense that ranked 129th in the country in opponent passing yards per game and allowed 7.7 yards per pass. The Cougars allowed 27 or more points in 10 of their 12 games this season, and this game should be no different.