It’ll be Conference USA vs the ACC in this year’s Walk-On’s Independence Bowl in Shreveport, LA. The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (9-3) will take on the Miami Hurricanes (6-6) at 4pm ET on 12/26. We’ll preview each team and try to tell what the outcome will be.
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs: 9-3 (6-2)
Skip Holtz Bulldog squad is on the cusp of the first 10-win season in program history. They’ve won nine games for the fourth time under Skip Holtz and the seventh time in program history. They’re bowl-bound for the sixth straight season, all under Skip Holtz. They are 5-0 in that time period.
Louisiana Tech dropped their first game at Texas but put together a string of eight consecutive wins to start the season. They dropped the next two games due in large part to key player suspensions for an athletic department policy violation. The result was a bad loss to Marshall and a close loss to division champion UAB.
Meridian, MS native and senior quarterback J’mar Smith is back. The offense relies heavily on his arm. The offense averages 277.3 yards per game, good for 31st best in the country. The Bulldogs are 9-1 with Smith under center.
The Bulldogs’ defense is susceptible to giving up a lot of points. They rank 69th in the country in total yards allowed per game. The Bulldogs will need a big game from Smith in his final appearance in the Louisiana Tech uniform.
Miami Hurricanes: 6-6 (4-4)
Miami native Manny Diaz has the Hurricanes bowl-bound in his first season. Diaz took over this season after Mark Richt’s sudden retirement last season. It’s been a mediocre year overall for Miami fans.
Miami started the season 0-2 after close losses to Florida and UNC. They turned it around and won six of eight including a big win over then No. 20 Virginia. Entering the final two games the Hurricanes were 6-4 with two very winnable games left on the schedule. Poor performances saw both games result in losses and a disappointing 6-6 season.
Quarterback shake-ups have been a theme for this season. Freshman Jarren Williams has seen the bulk of the snaps this season but sophomore N’Kosi Perry has seen a fair amount of time as well. Part of this is allegedly due to injury but part of it comes down to struggles by Williams’ struggle, including a three-interception game against Virginia Tech.
The Hurricanes are a pass-happy team with struggles moving the ball on the ground. They have a strong defense though, coming in at 13th in the country in yards allowed per game. Important to note, of their six losses, five have come by one possession or less including one loss in overtime.
As previously noted Louisiana Tech has won their last five bowl games. They have a season-low three losses this season under Skip Holtz. They’re back at full strength and were on a good streak up until the suspensions.
Miami, on the other hand, has let the season get away from them. They were looking at a much better bowl game than this before losing an embarrassing one to FIU and then another to then 4-7 Duke. Now they find themselves in the Independence Bowl.
This should be a back and forth game with two high powered air attacks. Miami is used to close games and will keep it competitive. The difference may come down how much pressure the Bulldog defense can get on the freshman quarterback for Miami.
Louisiana Tech: 38, Miami: 34
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