New Orleans Bowl preview: Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Tulane
The 2013-14 college football bowl season kicks off on Saturday with four games, including the New Orleans Bowl between Louisiana-Lafayette and Tulane in the Big Easy.
Here are some things to keep an eye on when you're tuned into the contest between the Ragin' Cajuns and the Green Wave.
Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4) vs. Tulane (7-5)
December 21, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
The Ragin' Cajuns dug themselves an 0-2 hole after opening with losses to Arkansas and Kansas State, but Mark Hudspeth's squad went on an eight-game winning streak before dropping their final two regular-season contests. They will be showcasing an offense that averages 34.6 points per game.
The Green Wave, meanwhile, became one of the feel-good stories of 2013, as Curtis Johnson oversaw a five-win improvement in his second season as head coach. Tulane is tied for 19th nationally in scoring defense, giving up just 21.2 points per contest.
US PRESSWIRETerrance Broadway may not see action on Saturday because of his injury.
Staying grounded: Louisiana-Lafayette's running back duo of Alonzo Harris and Elijah McGuire combined for nearly 1,700 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns to help the squad rank 26th in the country on the ground (Harris has 883 yards and 13 touchdowns, while McGuire has 823 yards and seven scores). And there's a real good chance that they will be the focus of this Ragin' Cajuns offensive gameplan because starting quarterback Terrance Broadway may not play after breaking his arm against Louisiana-Monroe. Backup signal-callers Brooks Haack, Jalen Nixon and D’Shaie Landor all played in the disastrous loss to South Alabama a few weeks ago.
An offensive offense: Tulane won't exactly light up the scoreboard, as the offense ranks 87th nationally in scoring at 25.1 points per game. Quarterback Nick Montana has completed just 53.1 percent of his passes for 1,654 yards and 14 touchdowns against nine interceptions. However, Montana has been hurt throughout the season and struggled in the regular-season finale. Will backup Devin Powell see action? Meanwhile, the Green Wave’s defense may be the team's best offense, especially if it doesn't have to face the talented Broadway. Tulane's turnover margin is also tied for ninth-best in the FBS, so expect a very conservative game plan in hopes that the Green Wave can ride their defense to a win. However, Tulane must do its best to get wide receiver Ryan Grant involved. The all-CUSA performer has 70 catches for 926 yards and nine touchdowns this year.
Odds and ends: Tulane is favored by 1.5 points and leads the all-time series 21-5 ... Louisiana-Lafayette has gone to the New Orleans Bowl three consecutive years ... Tulane is in the postseason for the first time since 2002 ... These two Louisiana schools are meeting for the first time in the postseason ... The Superdome has been Tulane's home stadium since 1975, but it's moving to a new on-campus venue in 2014 ... Hudspeth is seeking his third straight nine-win season ... Tulane won its last two bowl games — the Liberty Bowl in 1998 and the Hawaii Bowl in 2002.
Dave Miller, the college football editor and writer for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.