NCF Nation: new orleans bowl 2013

In a thriller filled with momentum swings, Louisiana-Lafayette outlasted Tulane 24-21 in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Saturday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

It was over when: Tulane kicker Cairo Santos' 48-yard field goal attempt missed wide left with 9 seconds to play. That was the Green Wave's chance to send the game to overtime, but the Ragin' Cajuns survived the furious Tulane rally.

Game ball goes to: Ragin' Cajuns freshman running back Elijah McGuire started the scoring off with a 27-yard first-quarter touchdown run and finished with 139 total yards (45 rushing, 94 receiving on seven catches).

Stat of the game: Louisiana-Lafayette held Tulane to a 25 percent conversion rate on third downs (3-of-12). Though Tulane had more offensive yards (388-325), the Ragin' Cajuns were able to get several key stops early in the game as they built their lead, and late in the game as they tried to keep Tulane from taking a lead. Tulane punted seven times and had three turnovers.

Second-guessing: Tulane had to burn its final timeout after Devin Powell was sacked with under a minute to go and did so with 13 seconds left, with the Green Wave facing third-and-6 from the Ragin' Cajuns' 31. Instead of trying for a first down or a quick sideline pass to gain yardage, the Green Wave elected the long field goal attempt, which missed. They might have been better served giving it one more try to gain yardage and get a closer look for Santos' kick.

What it means: The Ragin' Cajuns looked like they were going to run away with this game early after taking a 21-0 lead, so credit the Green Wave for hanging tough and coming back to make it a contest all the way to the final seconds. But it's another feather in the cap for the Cajuns and coach Mark Hudspeth. He has this program moving in the right direction, having won 27 games in his three seasons as head coach, which have each finished 9-4. Louisiana-Lafayette was 3-9 the season prior to his arrival. And despite the loss, you can say similar things for second-year Tulane coach Curtis Johnson, who led the Green Wave (7-6) to a winning season and a bowl game for the first time since 2002. Things are looking up for both programs.

To watch the trophy presentation of the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, click here.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl preview

December, 21, 2013
A preview of Saturday's R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl between Tulane (7-5) and Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4) at 9 p.m. ET (ESPN):

Who to watch: Tulane cornerback Lorenzo Doss is tied for second in the national rankings with seven interceptions. He already has 12 in his career, and he's just a sophomore. A first-team All-Conference USA selection, Doss also returned two interceptions for touchdowns. ... Louisiana-Lafayette senior linebacker Justin Anderson leads the Ragin' Cajuns with 123 tackles and 10 tackles for loss this season. He ranks in the top 15 nationally in tackles per game (10.3) and solo tackles per game (5.9). He was a first-team All-Sun Belt selection. ... Tulane senior Ryan Grant leads the team in receptions (70), receiving yards (926) and receiving touchdowns (nine) and is looking to become the first Tulane player to have consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons since 1987.

What to watch: Keep an eye on the quarterbacks. Ragin' Cajuns junior Terrance Broadway broke his arm on Nov. 30 but has practiced and might play. If he can't go, redshirt freshman Brooks Haack will start for Louisiana-Lafayette. Tulane starting quarterback Nick Montana is the son of Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana. Nick Montana has started 10 of 12 games, missing two in the middle of the year with an injury, but leads the team with 1,654 passing yards and 14 touchdowns with nine interceptions. The backup, Devin Powell, has appeared in seven games and started the two Montana missed.

Why to watch: The Ragin' Cajuns continue to rise under coach Mark Hudspeth. They have improved their standing in the Sun Belt in each of the past three seasons, going from third in 2011 to second in 2012 to a Sun Belt championship this year. The 45-year-old coach is 26-12 since taking over in Lafayette. Meanwhile, Tulane is a nice story, as well, making the postseason for the first time in 11 years. Curtis Johnson is in his second year as coach of the Green Wave and is already making an impact, taking the team to a winning record for the first time since 2002. Also, the site of Saturday's game – the Mercedes-Benz Superdome – has long been Tulane's home stadium, but this will be the Green Wave's finale there as they open Yulman Stadium, their new on-campus home, next year.

Prediction: Louisiana-Lafayette 31, Tulane 27.

R+L Carriers New Orleans

December, 8, 2013

Tulane Green Wave (7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns (8-3)

Dec. 21, 9 p.m. ET, New Orleans (ESPN)

He won’t win coach of the year, but Curtis Johnson has done a remarkable job in just his second season at Tulane. The New Orleans native took over a program that hadn’t had a winning season since 2002, and now it is headed to only its fourth bowl game in the past 30 years.

[+] EnlargeCurtis Johnson
Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsCurtis Johnson's Green Wave are going bowling for the first time since 2002.
At quarterback is a name you might have heard of. Nick Montana, son of Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, transferred to Tulane last December after a year in junior college.

Montana has thrown for 1,654 yards with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions. His favorite target has been senior wide receiver Ryan Grant, who leads the team with 70 receptions for 926 yards and nine touchdowns.

But the turnaround has been predicated by the defense. Tulane has gone from the bottom of the conference to the top in both yards per game and points per game. Cornerback Lorenzo Doss is tied for second in the FBS with seven interceptions. -- Greg Ostendorf


Louisiana-Lafayette was cruising right along on the heels of eight straight victories until hitting the skids and losing each of the past two weeks. The Ragin’ Cajuns could have won the Sun Belt Conference championship outright but were blasted 30-8 by South Alabama on Saturday.

[+] EnlargeTerrance Broadway
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesLouisiana-Lafayette's Terrance Broadway threw for 2,276 yards and 19 TDs and rushed for 421 yards and 8 TDs.
That’s after losing 31-28 at home to Louisiana-Monroe the previous week. Lafayette will make its third straight New Orleans Bowl appearance and hopes to have starting quarterback Terrance Broadway back for the game. He broke his forearm in the loss to ULM, and redshirt freshman Brooks Haack started in his place in the loss to South Alabama and struggled.

Lafayette coach Mark Hudspeth said Broadway’s injury wasn’t a “severe break” and that the Cajuns are optimistic he’ll be back for the Dec. 21 bowl game. They had scored more than 30 points in seven of their previous eight games before stumbling these past two games. -- Chris Low