R+L CARRIERS NEW ORLEANS BOWL GAME STORYLINES1. Louisiana-Lafayette won four of its last five games, scoring 31 or more points in each of the wins in claiming second place in the Sun Belt, and makes its second consecutive trip to The Big Easy after winning the bowl last year. The Ragin' Cajuns will put their high-scoring attack to the test against East Carolina in a near inevitable shootout. The Pirates, who won five of their last six before losing the Conference USA tiebreaker to Central Florida, have scored more than 40 points in four of those wins.
2. The Ragin' Cajuns and the Pirates make the most of their scoring opportunities. Louisiana-Lafayette is tied for second in the country in red zone efficiency while the Pirates lead C-USA and are tied for fifth nationally.
3. While both teams have had little trouble scoring the ball, neither has had much success stopping their opponents as they allow close to 30 points per game. The Pirates suffered each of their four defeats by at least 20 points.
TV: 12 p.m. ET, Saturday, Dec. 22. Line: Louisiana-Lafayette -5
ABOUT EAST CAROLINA (8-4, 7-1 C-USA): Shane Carden has racked up 2,838 yards of total offense and 29 touchdowns this season. In the Pirates' 65-59 double-overtime victory over Marshall in their season finale, Carden completed 38 of 47 passes for 439 yards and three touchdowns while running for another three scores. Justin Hardy, Carden's top target, has caught 83 passes for 1,046 yards and 10 touchdowns as East Carolina's air attack ranks 35th in the nation. Vintavious Cooper's 1,030 rushing yards and seven scores helps balance the attack. The Pirates are likely underdogs because of the four blowout losses to South Carolina, North Carolina, Central Florida and Navy. Also, East Carolina failed to record a victory against a bowl-bound opponent.
ABOUT LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE (8-4, 6-2 Sun Belt): While its the Ragin' Cajuns four wins in their last five games that sent them to New Orleans, its their lone loss in that span - a 27-20 defeat at the hands of then-No. 6 Florida that put them in the public spotlight. Dual-threat quarterback Terrance Broadway has thrown for 2,565 yards and 16 touchdowns while rushing for 661 yards and another eight scores. Three of his four best rushing performances came in Louisiana-Lafayette's last three games -- all wins. Paired with Alonzo Harris (761 yards, eight touchdowns), the Ragin' Cajuns average 187.3 yards per game, 39th-best in the nation. Louisiana-Lafayette recorded two victories over bowl teams this season in Louisiana-Monroe and Western Kentucky.
PREDICTION: Louisiana-Lafayette 45, East Carolina 42