San Diego St Aztecs and Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns Battle in New Orleans Bowl

2011 R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns vs San Diego St Aztecs
Superdome – New Orleans, Louisiana
Saturday, December 17, 2011, 9:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: San Diego St -5 1/2
Current Line: San Diego St -4
Opening Total: 60
Current Total: 59 1/2
Opening Money Line: SDSU -210 / ULL +180
Current Money Line: SDSU -180 / ULL +160

The Superdome hosts the New Orleans Bowl Saturday night between the San Diego St Aztecs and the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns. The Aztecs are 4 point favorites in a battle of 8-4 teams.

The 8-4 San Diego St Aztecs of the Mountain West make the trip to New Orleans to face the 8-4 Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns of the Sun Belt Conference in the 2011 R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. The Aztecs are coached by Rocky Long and have losses to bowl teams, Michigan 28-7, TCU 27-14, Boise St 52-35, and Wyoming 30-27. The Aztecs have wins over Army 23-20, Washington St 42-24, Air Force 41-27, and Fresno St 35-28 to end the season. This is the sixth ever bowl game at the D-I level for San Diego St and ninth all-time. The Aztecs are 5-4 in those games. It is the first time the Aztecs have gone to bowl games in consecutive years in the program’s history. SDSU beat Navy 35-14 in the Poinsettia Bowl in the Aztecs’ home stadium in San Diego last year.

Louisiana-Lafayette is coached by Mark Hudspeth in his first year with the Cajuns. Hudspeth was a national coach of the year finalist. ULL has losses to Oklahoma St 61-34, Western Kentucky 42-23, Arkansas St 30-21, and the Cajuns closed the season with 45-37 loss at Arizona. All four losses were on the road. The best win for ULL came at bowl team Florida International 36-31. Not much was expected from the Cajuns this year before the season started. ULL was picked by many to finish last in the Sun Belt. In fact one major publication picked the Cajuns to be the worst team of the 120 FBS schools. ULL is playing in their first bowl game since 1970. The Cajuns are 1-1 all time in bowl games. Louisiana-Lafayette and San Diego St have never played each other before.

San Diego St is averaging 422.9 yards a game including 228.8 passing yards and 194.2 rushing yards. The Aztecs score 29.8 points a game. SDSU has 16 turnovers and has allowed 10 sacks this season. The Aztecs are 90/205 on third and fourth down conversions, and 35/44 scoring in the red zone with 31 touchdowns. On defense, San Diego St allows 376.5 total yards, including 199.2 passing yards and 177.3 rushing yards. The Aztecs give up 24.4 points a game. SDSU has forced 27 turnovers and 28 sacks this season. Aztec opponents are 92/201 on third and fourth down conversions, and 28/32 scoring in the red zone with 24 touchdowns. San Diego St has 2 kick returns for touchdowns this season. The Aztecs are outscoring opponents 207-72  in the second half this season.

San Diego St quarterback Ryan Lindley is 209/398 passing (52.5% completion) for 2,740 yards, with 20 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. He has taken all the snaps at quarterback except for one this season. Running back Ronnie Hillman has 287 carries for 1,656 yards, and 19 touchdowns along with 20 catches, 221 yards, and a touchdown. He is the nation’s third leading rusher. Back-up Walter Kazee had 4 touchdown runs but is out for the season with a leg injury. Adam Muema has 39 carries, 244 yards, and 2 touchdown runs, plus a touchdown catch. Fullback Chad Young has 2 touchdown runs and a touchdown catch. Receiver Colin Lockett has 52 catches, 885 yards, and 5 touchdown catches, along with 7 carries for 96 yards. Lockett has over 1,500 all purpose yards as he also returns kicks¬† for the Aztecs. Lockett averages over 21 yards a return and has a kickoff return for a touchdown. Gavin Escobar has 47 catches, 710 and 7 touchdowns. Dylan Denso has 44 catches, 525 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Alston Umuolo has only 8 catches but 2 of them were for touchdowns. Reserve receivers Ezell Ruffin, Dominique Sandifer, and Jay Waddell are all out for the season. Kicker Abelardo Perez is 44/46 on extra points and 5/13 on field goals with a long of 42 yards. Five Aztec defensive players are listed as questionable or out for the bowl game.

Louisiana-Lafayette averages 380.2 total yards a game including 250.9 passing yards and 129.2 rushing yards. The Ragin’ Cajuns score 32.3 points a game. ULL has 22 turnovers and has allowed 25 sacks this season. The Cajuns are 76/194 on third and fourth down conversions, and 34/36 scoring in the red zone with 24 touchdowns. ULL allows 393.2 total yards a game, including 248.7 passing yards and 144.5 rushing yards a game. The Cajuns give up 29.8 points a game. ULL has forced 23 turnovers and 27 sacks this season. ULL opponents are 75/202 on third and fourth down conversions and 48/55 scoring in the red zone with 37 touchdowns. The Cajuns average 7.5 penalties a game for 65 yards. ULL has 8 defensive touchdowns including 7 interception returns.

ULL quarterback Blaine Gautier is 192/304 passing (63.2% completion) with 20 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, along with 109 carries, 464 yards, and 3 touchdown runs. Back-up Chris Masson also has taken some snaps this season. Masson is 45/82 passing for 437 yards with 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, plus a rushing touchdown. Running back Alonzo Harris has 149 carries, 638 yards, and 8 touchdowns, along with 14 catches, 146 yards, and a touchdown. Qyendarius Griffin has 69 carries, 210 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Four other ULL players have rushing touchdowns this season. Receiver Javone Lawson has 54 catches, 899 yards, and 6 touchdowns. Harry Peoples has 53 catches, 647 yards, and a touchdown reception, along with a rushing touchdown. Tight end Ladarius Green has 46 catches, 485 yards, and 7 touchdowns. Darryl Surgent has 25 catches, 425 yards, and 6 touchdown catches, along with a rushing touchdown. Kicker Brett Baer is 44/46 on extra points and 16/18 on field goals with a long of 49 yards. Four Cajun defensive players are listed as questionable or out.

Louisiana-Lafayette is 8-4 against the spread and the total is also 8-4 this season. San Diego St is 5-7 ATS and the total is 6-6 this year. The Cajuns are 4-0 ATS against teams with winning records, 5-0 in non-conference games, 6-0 after allowing 40 points or more, 9-1 on turf, 7-1 as an underdog of between 3.5 and 10 points, 13-3 as an underdog, 18-6 after a straight up loss, 5-2 overall, and 6-13 after a cover. The Aztecs are 8-3 ATS after failing to cover, 1-4 as a favorite, after a straight up win, and on turf.

Louisiana-Lafayette will have a decided home field advantage playing in nearby New Orleans. The Cajuns sold 15,000 tickets on the first day they found out they were going to this bowl. However, this could be a case of ULL just happy to be here, since the Cajuns haven’t played in a bowl game in such a long time. One thing to keep in mind if the game is close is San Diego St kicker Perez struggles, converting less than half of his field goal attempts, and ULL kicker Baer is very reliable. I do see a lot of points scored in this game as neither defense is spectacular and the offenses can be explosive. I see San Diego St winning a close shootout, but the Cajuns can certainly pull off the upset.

Our college football handicappers are red hot as the bowl season gets underway. We have winners lined up for every game from the New Mexico Bowl to the BCS Championship game next month.


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