Two Louisiana schools will square off in the 2018 AutoNation Cure Bowl. The Tulane Green Wave and the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns will square off in Orlando for the first time since 2016. Tulane leads the all-time series 22-4. Here is the 2018 AutoNation Cure Bowl preview:
Tulane Green Wave (6-6)
Tulane won four of their last five games to become bowl eligible at 6-6. They lost to all teams that were bowl-eligible except SMU, who they lost to by four points. The Green Wave were able to beat two bowl-eligible teams in Memphis and USF.
At 186.1 yards per game, their passing attack isn’t potent. Two quarterbacks have played for the Green Wave this season with Justin McMillan taking the snaps at the end of the season. He has thrown for 1,159 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions on 50% completion. McMillan will have two good receivers to work with. Darnell Mooney leads the team in every receiving category with 47 receptions, 987 receiving yards and eight touchdown catches. Terren Encalade has also had a good season with 39 receptions for 634 yards and four touchdowns.
The Green Wave focuses on the run game more, as they run for 208.3 yards per game. Two running backs do most of the damage for Tulane. Darius Bradwell has rushed for 984 yards and nine touchdowns on 5.9 yards per carry. Corey Dauphine has done his part with 754 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on 6.5 yards per carry.
They have an average scoring defense at 27.8 points allowed per game, which ranks tied for 73rd in the FBS. They rank 50th in rushing yards allowed per game at 152.6, but are one of the worst pass defenses in the FBS, allowing 266.6 yards per game and ranking 114th. Cornerback Donnie Lewis Jr. is tied for third in the country with 20 passes defended.
Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (7-6)
Head coach Billy Napier had a solid first season at Louisiana with their 7-6 record and an appearance in the Sun Belt Conference Championship Game. Five of their six losses came to bowl-eligible teams, with two of them coming to Appalachian State. Only two of their wins came over bowl-eligible teams in Arkansas State and Louisiana-Monroe (ULM was not invited to a bowl game).
At quarterback, senior Andre Nunez has kept the offense steady, but the pass offense is below par at 89th in the country. He has thrown for 2,136 yards, 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions on 64.4% completion. Four players provide good targets for Nunez in Ja’Marcus Bradley, Ryheem Malone, Elijah Mitchell and Jarrod Jackson. Bradley leads all receivers with 557 yards and 10 touchdowns, while Malone leads the team in receptions with 41.
The Ragin’ Cajuns sport the 19th best run offense in the country at 229.1 rushing yards per game. The ground game includes three effective running backs in Trey Ragas, Elijah Mitchell and Raymond Calais. Ragas leads the team in rushing with 1,141 yards and also has eight touchdowns. Mitchell has the most rushing touchdowns on the team at 12. Calais is the team leader in yards per carry at 9.1. All three have at least 700 yards and six touchdowns.
The defense is not great, allowing 33.7 points per game, which ranks 104th in the country. They rank 57th against the pass at 222.3 yards given up per game, but are much worse against the run allowing 210 yards per game, which ranks 107th. Linebacker Jacques Boudreaux is one of the leaders on the team and has registered 87 tackles and two sacks on the season.
Louisiana’s rushing attack will be the difference in this game. Their ability to keep the ball on the ground and control the clock, will limit Tulane’s ability to take advantage of the Ragin’ Cajuns’ defensive deficiencies. Nunez will just have to worry about protecting the football and converting on third downs for Louisiana to win.
Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns 38 Tulane Green Wave 31
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