East Carolina Pirates (8-4, 7-1) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns (8-4)
Dec. 22, noon, New Orleans (ESPN)
East Carolina take by SEC blogger Chris Low: The big news off the field this week was that East Carolina would be joining the Big East Conference in 2014. On the field, the Pirates enter the postseason playing some of their best football of the season. They’ve won five of their past six games, but were edged out by UCF in a tiebreaker for the Conference USA East Division championships. Both teams finished 7-1, but UCF won 40-20 back on Oct. 4.
The trip to face Louisiana-Lafayette in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl will be East Carolina’s sixth bowl appearance in the past seven years. The Pirates, under third-year coach Ruffin McNeill, have shown that they can score points this season. In their past five wins, they’ve scored 40 or more points four times and ended the regular season with a 65-59 win over Marshall in two overtimes. Quarterback Shane Carden has rolled up 2,838 yards in total offense and accounted for 29 touchdowns.
Louisiana-Lafayette take from SEC blogger Edward Aschoff: The Ragin’ Cajuns might have captured the attention of college football fans outside of the state of Louisiana after their nail-biting 27-20 loss to Florida inside the Swamp, but they were pretty impressive before that late-November day.
Louisiana-Lafayette started the year 4-1, scoring 40 or more points in three of those games. After hitting a bit of a lull in October, the Ragin’ Cajuns finished the regular season winning four of their last five to finish second in the Sun Belt Conference.
While ULL’s defense struggled for most of the year, the offense certainly helped the Ragin’ Cajuns win some shootouts as they averaged more than 440 yards per game.
The Ragin’ Cajuns have recorded eight wins for the second straight season.