Monday night, the penultimate game of the 2019 college football season is set to take place as Louisiana and Miami (OH) meet in the 2020 LendingTree Bowl. The Ragin' Cajuns of the Sun Belt Conference enjoyed a successful 10-win season, the first in program history, while the Redhawks enter the postseason game as the champions of the MAC after they topped Central Michigan in the title game.
The Sun Belt West champion Ragin' Cajuns are two-touchdown favorites in Mobile, which will likely be a pseudo home game for coach Bill Napier's squad. Will they hold serve, or will the RedHawks spring the upset? Let's break down the game and make picks straight up and against the spread.
Louisiana: If you haven't paid attention to the Ragin' Cajuns offense in 2019, you're in for a treat. They're ninth in the country in scoring offense at 38.8 points per game, eighth in total offense at 501.3 yards per game, sixth in yards per play at 7.03 and have 112 rushing plays of 10 or more yards -- third in the nation. Elijah Mitchell has 1,092 yards and 15 touchdowns on the season and leads a three-headed monster in the backfield with fellow running backs Raymond Calais (867 yards, six touchdowns) and Trey Ragas (796 yards, 11 touchdowns). They've been stout defensively as well. The defensive unit finished second in the Sun Belt in total defense with 373.4 yards per game and yards per play at 5.47.
Miami: The RedHawks also get it done defensively. They have given up just 380.5 yards per game, 5.18 yards per play and have yielded 28.2 points per game. It's an old school team that pairs a solid defense with a punishing ground attack. Electric junior Jaylon Bester has 689 yards and 12 touchdowns, and freshman Tyre Shelton has added 528 yards and two more scores on the ground. Quarterback Brett Gabbert, the younger brother of former Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert, has 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions on the season.
Event: LendingTree Bowl
Date: Monday, Jan. 6 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Ladd-Peebles Stadium -- Mobile, Alabama
TV: ESPN | Live stream: WatchESPN.com
LendingTree Bowl prediction, picks
The Ragin' Cajuns will get the win, but this game just screams backdoor cover. Coach Billy Napier has been the subject of plenty of rumors regarding the vacant Mississippi State job. Even though he reportedly declined the offer, it wouldn't surprise me if they still come out a little sloppy. In the end, the rushing attack will be too much for the RedHawks to overcome, but it'll still be an entertaining game leading up to the national title game next week. Pick: Miami (+14)
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