The 2022 New Orleans Bowl features the 8-5 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers against the 10-2 South Alabama Jaguars. Here is the 2022 New Orleans Bowl preview.
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (8-5)
Western Kentucky won eight games to make their fourth straight bowl game. The Hilltoppers won two games against teams who were at least .500 in Middle Tennessee and UAB. They lost to Auburn and Indiana, each of which didn’t make a bowl game.
The Hilltoppers score 35.8 points per game, ranking 18th in the FBS. Western Kentucky passes for 339.2 yards (ranked 2nd) and rushes for 145 yards per game (ranked 72nd).
Austin Reed transferred in from North Florida of Division II and has been a good quarterback for the Hilltoppers and will play in this game after flirting with the transfer portal. Reed has passed for 4,249 yards, 36 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on 64.4 percent completion. He will have five receivers with at least 200 yards to pass to in the bowl game. Michael Corley has been the leading receiver with 90 catches for 1,179 yards and nine touchdowns.
Three running backs have at least 200 rushing yards for the Hilltoppers. Kyle Robichaux leads the team with 496 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Davion Ervin-Poindexter has been right behind him with 492 yards and three touchdowns himself.
Their defense allows 23.4 points per game, which is ranked 44th in the country. They concede 155.6 rushing yards (ranked 74th) and 225.2 passing yards per game (ranked 69th). Linebacker JaQues Evans leads the team with 101 total tackles and also leads the team with eight sacks. Unfortunately, he is now in the transfer portal. Khalef Hailassie has been great in the secondary with 10 passes defended and two interceptions.
South Alabama Jaguars (10-2)
South Alabama won 10 games to get bowl-eligible for the first time since 2016. They defeated bowl-eligible teams on their way this year: Louisiana, Georgia Southern and Southern Miss. Their losses were to UCLA and Troy, who each qualified for bowl games.
The Jaguars score 31.9 points per game, tying them for 41st in the country. They pass for 257.8 yards (tied for 42nd) and rush for 166.2 yards per game (ranked 57th).
Carter Bradley has been a solid quarterback for the Jaguars this season. He has passed for 2,976 yards, 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on 64.3 percent completion. Three receivers have over 700 receiving yards on the season. Jalen Wayne has 795 yards and nine touchdowns, Caullin Lacy has 756 yards and six touchdowns, while Devin Volsin has 714 yards and four touchdowns.
Four players have over 200 rushing yards for the Jaguars, but La’Damian Webb has been the workhorse in the backfield. He has 1,014 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns this season.
The defense allows 19.4 points per game, ranking them 14th in the country. They allow 87.8 rushing yards (ranked 2nd) and 215 passing yards per game (ranked 51st). Safety Jaden Volsin leads the team in tackles with 76. Jamie Sheriff has the team-high with six sacks. Yam Banks has also played well at safety with 10 passes defended and five interceptions.
This game is heavily influenced by the transfer portal. With the Hilltoppers not having a few players and a few others having missed practice time, South Alabama should be able to win by about a touchdown.
South Alabama Jaguars 29 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 24
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