Primetime College Football: R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
The ninth annual New Orleans Bowl features the first-ever meeting between the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles and the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders.
The Golden Eagles are making their second straight and fourth overall appearance in the New Orleans Bowl, where they are a perfect 3-0, including a 30-27 overtime triumph over Troy last season. Overall coach Larry Fedora’s Golden Eagles are 9-8 in bowl games and are appearing in their eighth straight. The Golden Eagles earned their spot in this game going 7-5 during the regular season while going 6-2 in Conference USA.
The Blue Raiders are making just their second bowl appearance and their first since losing to Central Michigan in the 2006 Motor City Bowl. Middle Tennessee went 7-1 in the Sun Belt Conference and 9-3 overall while the nine regular-season victories are the program’s most since 1992.
Despite losing star quarterback Austin Davis to injury midway through the season, the Golden Eagles were still able to churn out more than 5,000 total yards of offense for the third straight season. Martevious Young stepped in for Davis and threw 13 touchdowns with only one interception while rushing for 270 yards. DeAndre Brown has gone over 100 yards in two straight games and has scored 5 touchdowns over his last five outings. Damion Fletcher is set to conclude his career with the Golden Eagles and has rushed for 937 yards and 8 scores this season and is just 63 yards shy of becoming the ninth player in NCAA Division I-A history to record four 1,000-yard campaigns.
Defensively, the Eagles are strong up front and they have done a nice job in registering 33 sacks on the season. The unit also ranks 22nd nationally in tackles for loss, averaging 6.9 per game. Linebackers Korey Williams has 112 tackles and Ronnie Thornton has 107 are the teams best tackles and have also combined for 18.5 tackles for loss. Williams has 6.5 sacks to his credit and ranks second to Cordarro Law, who tops the roster with 7.5 and 13.5 tackles for loss. The weakness of this defense comes in the secondary, where the Eagles are allowing 265.6 ypg through the air.
Coach Rick Stockstill’s Blue Raiders, it all starts with quarterback Dwight Dasher, who ranks ninth nationally in total offense. The versatile gunslinger can get the job done in a variety of ways and he has thrown for 2,627 yards and 21 touchdowns but has thrown 14 interceptions but does lead the team with 953 yards and 11 scores on the ground. D.D. Kyles ranks second to Dasher with 822 rushing yards and he is averaging 6.5 yards per carry.
The defense has done an outstanding job of making big plays, as they have notched 31 turnovers, including 17 interceptions and 38 sacks. Chris McCoy has posted 59 stops and a team-high seven sacks. Linebacker Cam Robinson leads the team in tackles with 104 and he also has 13 tackles for loss and 5 sacks. Danny Carmichael checks in with 87 stops, 12.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks, while also ranking third in the nation with 6 forced fumbles. The secondary has allowed just 13 touchdowns through the air this season and corner Marcus Udell has 7 interceptions.
PICK: Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders