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2011 New Orleans - ULL 32-SDSU 30

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 17, 2011


2011-2012 Bowls - CFN's Preview & Prediction for the 2011 R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

2011 R&L Carriers New Orleans

La-Lafayette 32 ... SDSU 30

- 2011-2012 CFN Bowl Central

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National Rankings
S   LL
35th Total Offense 65th
57th Total Defense 72nd
49th Scoring Offense 32nd
52nd Scoring Defense 83rd
28th Rushing Offense 86th
81st Run Defense 55th
64th Passing Offense 40th
31st Passing Defense 92nd
11th Turnover Margin 55th
Position Rankings
relative to each other
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
S   LL
4 Quarterbacks 3
5 RBs 2.5
3 Receivers 4
4.5 O Line 2.5
3 D Line 3.5
3 Linebackers 3
4 Secondary 2
2 Spec Teams 3.5
3.5 Coaching 4
Louisiana-Lafayette 32 … San Diego State 30
- CFN Thoughts on the Game

Louisiana-Lafayette: PK Brett Baer missed an extra point and got another blocked, but he hit a 22-yard field goal along with the 50-yard game-winner. He also put three of his four punts – averaging 36.8 yards - inside the 20 including two at the one. … QB Blaine Gautier completed 24-of-40 passes for 470 yards and three touchdowns and a pick, and he ran nine times for 22 yards. … RB Alonzo Harris ran 14 times for 62 yards. … WR Javone Harris caught nine passes for 193 yards and two scores, and TE Ladarius Green caught five passes for 121 yards and a score. … LB Lance Kelly made 11 tackles with two broken up passes, as did safety Jemarious Moten.

San Diego State: QB Ryan Lindley completed 28-of-49 passes for 413 yards and three scores. … RB Ronnie Hillman ran 24 times for 55 yards. … WR Colin Lockett caught six passes for 85 yards and three scores. … Safety Nat Berhe led the team with ten tackles and a broken up pass.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Brett Baer kicked a 50-yard field goal as time ran out, lifting Louisiana-Lafayette to 32-30 victory over San Diego State in the New Orleans Bowl on Saturday night.

Playing in their first bowl game as a Division I FBS team, the Ragin Cajuns (9-4) led most of the way but fell behind 30-29 when Aztecs quarterback Ryan Lindley connected with Colin Lockett on a 12-yard touchdown strike with 35 seconds to go.

Louisiana-Lafayette was able to drive to the Aztecs 38 to set up what was initially a 55-yard attempt, but a pre-snap penalty on SDSU (8-5) moved the winning kick 5 yards closer.

Cajuns quarterback Blaine Gautier passed for 470 yards and three touchdowns. He finished with 2,958 yards passing and 23 TDs on the season, breaking Jake Delhomme's single-season school records.

Delhomme held those records since 1996, when he passed for 2,901 yards and 20 TDs.

Gautier threw two of his touchdown passes to Javone Lawson, from 18 and 11 yards out, and had a 20-yard scoring strike to Ladarius Green

Darryl Surgent returned a punt 87 yards for a score, slicing through SDSU's punt coverage with a quick cut to his right and a sprint back to the left.

The Ragin' Cajuns had not appeared in a bowl of any kind since playing in the Grantland Rice Bowl 41 years ago.

They weren't expected to contend for a bowl bid this season, either, but earned one with a surprisingly quick turnaround under first-year coach Mark Hudspeth.

Thousands of red-clad, bowl-starved fans followed the Ragin' Cajuns to New Orleans, a drive of just more than two hours east from Lafayette, turning the Superdome into a de facto home field. They also helped set a New Orleans Bowl attendance record of 42,841.

Lawson, who grew up in suburban New Orleans, made nine catches for 193 yards, including a 52-yard catch and run that set up Green's TD. Green caught five passes for 121 yards.

Ryan Lindley was 28 of 49 for 413 yards. He found Colin Lockett for a pair of 16-yard scoring passes in the third quarter, when the Aztecs trimmed a 19-3 deficit to 19-17. Lockett's second TD capped a seven-play, 99-yard drive that was helped by a pass interference penalty that wipe out an interception.

The Ragin' Cajuns responded with a 14-play, 78-yard drive that included three third-down conversions and finished with Lawson's second touchdown catch.

Adam Muema's 5-yard touchdown run up the middle pulled SDSU back to 26-24 with 5:40 left, then Baer's 22-yard field goal set up the wild finish.

San Diego State (8-4) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4) Dec. 17, 8:00, ESPN

Here's The Deal … Finally, after years of knocking on the bowl door with four six-win seasons since 2005, Louisiana-Lafayette finally broke through the ceiling under first year head coach Mark Hudspeth. It's already been the greatest football season in school history, but a win in the program's first bowl game would make it truly special.

All of a sudden, San Diego State is the established old pro in the bowl, even though this is just the seventh post-season appearance and just the second since 1998. Last year, the Aztecs destroyed Navy 35-14 in the Poinsettia Bowl for the program's first bowl win since beating Boston University in the 1969 Pasadena Bowl. While this might not have been the bowl game the team was hoping for coming into the year, a win would make it two straight nine-win seasons and the most successful back-to-back campaigns since winning 20 games in 1976 and 1977.

Rocky Long proved he could step in and take over for Brady Hoke and produce, fighting through a few tough losses and a colossal home upset to Wyoming to get back to a bowl game. The Aztecs came up with a nice win at Air Force, lost to Michigan, TCU, and Boise State teams they were supposed to lose to, and now they can make a good season a great one. The expectations have been upped now, and San Diego State has a chance to win five of its final six games – like it was supposed to.

The Ragin' Cajuns lost their final two games against Arkansas State and Arizona on the road, and they got blasted at Western Kentucky, but they were able to go on a nice six-game run after losing to Oklahoma State to start the year with a nice passing game, a timely defense, and helped by a soft schedule. You can only beat the teams on the slate, but the win over Florida International was the only one of note. The second best win? North Texas.

Unlike San Diego State, who has to win this game to make the year a success, ULL is playing with house money. It would be nice to win the bowl game, but this has already been a terrific year and Hudspeth has everything on the right track. The team can play loose and relaxed, but will that be enough to overcome San Diego State's talent? It should be a spirited bowl.

This is the 11th year of the New Orleans Bowl with the Sun Belt winning four of the last five after losing four of the first five. Only two of the games – the Southern Miss overtime win over Troy in 2008 and the North Texas win over Cincinnati in 2002 – were any good, and this one could depend on San Diego State's mood. Will the Aztecs be fired up for a bowl like this, or will they go through the motions? Either way, it should be an entertaining way to close out Day One of the bowl season.

Why Louisiana-Lafayette Might Win: The Ragin' Cajun defensive front is athletic and active enough to lock down on San Diego State running back Ronnie Hillman and force the Aztec attack to be one-dimensional. That one dimension might be good, but SDSU has to run the ball consistently for everything to work. This isn't a big ULL front four, but it's terrific at getting into the backfield and it tees off on the quarterback. ULL has allowed more than 200 rushing yards just twice – to Oklahoma State and Western Kentucky – and it will have had plenty of time to work on stopping Hillman. While WKU's Bobby Rainey ran wild on the Ragin' Cajuns, they stopped UNT's Lance Dunbar and has done a great job against just about everyone else.

ULL has to control the ball and the clock, and that means hitting on its third down plays. The D is 35th in the nation in third down conversion defense, while San Diego State is 94th. However, the Aztec offense is great on third downs and ULL's isn't. It's strength-vs.-strength, and this year, ULL has been able to overcome its problems offensively because of a defense that makes the big plays when it has to.

Why San Diego State Might Win: Louisiana-Lafayette will have to be perfect, and it won't be. San Diego State is great at keeping the penalties to a minimum, committing just 56 penalties on the year averaging just 42 yards per game. On the flip side, the Ragin' Cajuns have committed 90 penalties averaging over 65 yards per game. ULL doesn't have the offense to come up with big plays on second-and-third-and-long, and the wrong penalty at the right time could kill drives fast.

Even if the ULL defensive front is able to slow down Hillman, SDSU's offense should be able to shine with Ryan Lindley sure to hit the 250-yard mark, and possibly bombing away for 300. This isn't the Aztec passing game of the last few years, but it's still good enough to produce against a ULL secondary that's been burned by everyone with a quarterback. Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden, Troy's Corey Robinson, and Arizona's Nick Foles all blew up for well over 300 yards, and Lindley is sharp enough and experienced enough to push the ball down the field after throwing for 200 yards or more in nine games with 20 touchdown passes and eight picks with three of them coming against TCU.

What To Watch Out For: Ronnie Hillman was San Diego State's star of the bowl win over Navy, running for 228 yards and two scores on just 28 carries. He's been even more effective this year finishing third in the nation with 1,656 yards and 19 touchdowns with 100 yards or more in every game but three. Over the last two years, SDSU is 12-2 when he runs for 110 yards or more. While he's only 5-10 and 185 pounds and he's not going to bring much power, he's a speedster who can hit the home run from anywhere on the field. Originally considered a receiver recruit, he signed with the team four years ago but struggled with his academics. He got it all together and became one of the nation's best players.

ULL needs big games out of its All-Sun Belt receivers, junior Javone Lawson, who caught 54 passes for 899 yards and six scores, and tight end Ladarius Green, who finished with 46 catches for 485 yards and seven scores. Tall, Green's a wiry 6-6, 230-pound matchup nightmare and is terrific around the goal line. Like a big wide receiver and with his skills, he's one of the Sun Belt's most talented weapons, but he's not going to blow anyone away with his blocking.

The 6-1, 183-pound Lawson was growing into a decent deep threat last year, but he got hurt and missed the second half of the season. With decent size and great speed, he blew up at the outside X position while also shining as a kickoff returner.

Pacing the SDSU defense is senior Miles Burris, a two-time First Team All-Mountain West pick as one of the best pass rushing outside linebackers in the country. He made 72 tackles with eight sacks 21 tackles for loss, and he needs to be disruptive. The hard-hitting veteran is fast, active, and tough, proving this year to be one of the nation's best all-around defenders.

What Will Happen: San Diego State will have too much firepower. Louisiana-Lafayette will play above its head for a half, but the running game won't go anywhere and the tremendous Aztec corner tandem of Leon McFadden and Larry Parker will put the clamps down on Lawson and Green. It's not going to be a walk in the park, but the Aztecs will get enough production from the offensive line – and Hillman – in the fourth quarter to get a second straight bowl win.

CFN Prediction: San Diego State 35 … Louisiana-Lafayette 27
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: San Diego State -5   O/U: 60  
 
Confidence Picks 
Fiu Rich Matt Russ Barrett Terry Phil Clucko PICK
SD (27) SD (16) LL (3) LL (5) LL (14) SD(30) SD (19) LL (29) SD (41)

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Will San Diego State be jacked up for a ULL home game? Ronnie Hillman and the Aztecs are better, but the Ragin' Cajuns might play at a whole other level.
 
By Richard Cirminiello 
Welcome to a bigger spotlight, Blaine Gauthier, the Ragin' Cajuns quarterback most responsible for this improbable bowl bid.

By Matt Zemek
San Diego State might seem to have the obvious advantage in talent, but will the Aztecs care about this game? ULL will be playing close to home – this could be an upset.

By: Barrett Sallee
Follow me on Twitter: @BarrettSallee  
Will Mark Hudspeth be the coach of the Ragin' Cajuns for this game? I doubt it.

By Russ Mitchell
There's nothing else on. Cajuns slipped down the stretch, while the Aztec closed strong.

By Terry Johnson
The battle between SDSU RB Ronnie Hillman and ULL QB Blaine Gauthier will provide plenty of offensive fireworks.

By Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN
Both teams were close to bigger things with a play or two different in key situations. This can leave one of the two with a better taste than what might have been.
 
Best Bowl Moments

Best Aztec Bowl Moment: It is said that the first time is always the most special one, but San Diego State's history of bowl victories rates as an exception. With all due respect to Don Coryell's takedown of Boston University in the 1969 Pasadena Bowl, SDSU's second bowl win was better than its first. A 35-14 romp over Navy in last year's Poinsettia Bowl gave the Aztecs a beautiful home-field finale, a glorious conclusion to a supremely distinguished season. San Diego State lost on its home field to Iowa in the 1986 Holiday Bowl, so the ability to win at Qualcomm Stadium a year ago against Navy gave the program its most indelibly happy postseason memory.

Best Ragin' Cajun Bowl Moment: THIS ONE! For the first time in 40 seasons, Louisiana-Lafayette is going bowling. First-year coach Mark Hudspeth hopes that his team will avoid a 7-10 split (or a 7-10 loss…) against San Diego State in the Big Easy. Louisiana-Lafayette can also say this: Its season did not result in the loss of its coach; whereas Sun Belt champion Arkansas State saw Hugh Freeze go to Ole Miss, Hudspeth will be in Lafayette for the 2012 season.

New Orleans Bowl History
2010 Troy 48, Ohio 21
2009 Middle Tennessee 42, Southern Miss 32
2008 Southern Miss 30, Troy 27 OT
2007 Florida Atlantic 44, Memphis 27
2006 Troy 41, Rice 17
2005 Southern Miss 31, Arkansas St 19
2004 Southern Miss 31, North Texas 10
2003 Memphis 27, North Texas 17
2002 North Texas 24, Cincinnati 19
2001 Colorado St 45, North Tex. 20

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