2012 New Orleans Bowl and MAACO Bowl Previews

December 21, 2012

That one was ugly.

I’m a little embarrassed that there is documented proof that I picked Ball State to beat Central Florida in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl. Frankly, the Cardinals were completely outmatched and didn’t stand a chance. My brother, dad and I were having fun pointing out all the times that a Ball State defender made a fool of himself trying to tackle Blake Bortles or Rannell Hall.

With my first loss in Bowl Mania, I have lost about as many points as most of the other entries in my group. However, I’m still sitting in the lead at this point. Saturday is a fairly important day with regards to the overall standings, as I could relinquish the lead if my picks don’t pan out.

Here are the previews for the bowl games taking place on December 22nd.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

East Carolina vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

The Ragin’ Cajuns are making their second consecutive trip to the New Orleans Bowl after qualifying for their first bowl game in 41 years last season. Thanks to Brett Baer’s 50-yard field goal as time expired, Louisiana-Lafayette has good memories of the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Those who remembered and enjoyed last year’s matchup should be in for a treat again this season, as this bowl game should once again be characterized by lots of scoring.

East Carolina is back in the postseason after a one-year absence, so the Pirates should be excited for this game. Ruffin McNeill’s team is very dangerous on offense, and can hurt opposing defenses in a number of ways. Quarterback Shane Carden will be a key player in this game as Louisiana-Lafayette struggles against the pass. Carden is a playmaker as opposed to a game manager, and will take advantage of the holes he sees downfield. The running game is also solid thanks to Vintavious Cooper, who has eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark in rushing this season. The Pirates are just fine with an offensive shootout, and may even try to dictate one because of their up-tempo style on offense.

Louisiana-Lafayette isn’t too shabby on offense either, averaging over 440 yards of offense per game. However, the Ragin’ Cajuns have also shown the ability to play solid defense as well. While statistics will not tell the entire story, good defensive play is what kept the team in a surprisingly tight game against fifth ranked Florida. However, the defense can also let the Cajuns down as it did in losses to Oklahoma State, North Texas and Arkansas State. The secondary will need to step up and find a way to limit Carden’s success or it will be difficult to repeat as New Orleans Bowl champions.

The Ragin’ Cajuns are essentially playing a home game, and I think the excitement is still there despite playing in the same bowl game two years in a row. If the defense can force a couple of turnovers, Louisiana-Lafayette has the offensive firepower to take advantage of East Carolina’s suspect defense. Conference-USA looked strong against the MAC which is why I only have the Cajuns for 13 points in Bowl Mania, but I think Mark Hudspeth’s team will pull through.

My Pick: 35-28 Louisiana-Lafayette

MAACO Bowl Las Vegas (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Washington vs. #19 Boise State

Another bowl season, another trip to Las Vegas for Boise State. The Broncos are in the MAACO Bowl for the third straight season, and will be matched up against Washington in what is a preview of a 2013 regular season game. That alone should assure that Boise State’s players and coaches will be taking this game seriously and avoid any sluggishness that could result from not wanting to be in Sin City. Washington should be the toughest opponent the Broncos have played in this bowl, as the Huskies have proven they are capable of beating elite teams this season.

Boise State may be a little overrated at No. 19 in the polls. The Broncos have had trouble on offense against just about every team with even a decent defense, and most of the struggles can be attributed to the passing game. Following Kellen Moore can be tough, as Joe Southwick has learned firsthand. It took the junior most of the season to find his groove, but he seems to have hit his stride at the right time. Southwick has thrown seven touchdowns and no interceptions in the past three games, and has become increasingly efficient behind center. However, Washington’s pass defense is second best in the Pac-12, which means that the Broncos may have to rely on the running game as it did in the early part of the year to move the ball.

Washington is one of the more inconsistent teams in the nation. The Huskies beat Stanford in late September, beat Oregon State in late October yet  lost to Arizona and Washington State. Like Boise State, Washington keeps games close with solid defensive play but struggles on offense. However, Washington has a quarterback in Keith Price that has proven his ability to be a game changer. If Price returns to his 2011 form, the Huskies could crack the code on Boise State’s defense which allows just 14.9 points per contest. If not, Washington will likely become just another Pac-12 victim of Boise State head coach Chris Petersen.

I’m not as confident as I usually am with the Broncos, putting just 14 points on them in Bowl Mania. However, I think that they are capable of winning a defensive battle if the offense doesn’t show up, and may win rather easily if Joe Southwick & Co. has their way with Washington’s defense.

My Pick: 27-17 Boise State

Remember, if you’d like to share your opinion on Around The Corn for any of the upcoming bowls, shoot me an email with your thoughts and prediction to kbecks@aroundthecorn.com. Or you can like Around The Corn’s Facebook page or send me a tweet @KBecks_ATC. As long as you send your thoughts at least two games before the game is to be played, I can assure you that your thoughts will show up in an article.

– K. Becks

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