New Orleans Bowl Betting Preview - Southern Miss With Great Advantage Over Louisiana-Lafayette

Southern Miss Golden Eagles QB Throwing Football

Mark Lathrop

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 5:24 PM UTC

Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016 5:24 PM UTC

Our expert college football handicapper breaks down the New Orleans Bowl between the Golden Eagles and the Ragin' Cajuns. Read on as he sees a team with a significant advantage in the Big Easy.

2015-16 NCAAF Record: 38-33-2, +1.60 Units 

For the 52nd time in their schools’ history, Southern Miss and Louisiana-Lafayette will meet on the football field. This time it’s in the postseason; however, as both teams travel to the Superdome in New Orleans to play in the 16th New Orleans Bowl on Saturday, December 17th. This will be the final bowl game of six to be played that day, and I think it could be one of the bettor games to wager on in the day. The Southern Miss Golden Eagles have been placed as 3-point favorites as of Monday night.

Southern Miss comes into this game after a 6-6 regular season campaign in the Conference USA. Southern Miss is only 3-9 ATS this year, but 2 of those ATS wins were also SU wins as underdogs against Kentucky and Louisiana Tech. That win against Louisiana Tech was the last time they played, a 39-24 home win as a 15.5-point underdog. Senior quarterback Nick Mullens had his best game of the season in that one, as he completed 29 of 33 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns. Mullens has shared some of the QB duties with run-first freshman, Keon Howard, but this being Mullens last college football game will probably limit the looks we see with those packages (which can be effective). On the season, Mullens sports a decent 22/10 TD/INT ratio, and put up a season-high total of 591 yards in a game against Rice in October.

Louisiana-Lafayette became bowl eligible on the last game of the season, ending with a 6-6 record out of the Sun Belt. Unlike Southern Miss, La Lafayette is more of a run-first team, led by senior RB Elijah McGuire who has already exceeded 1,000 yards on the season. McGuire is consistent in breaking 1,000 yards on a season, this is his third in a row, but has been shut down at times against tough defenses.

What I see as the reason that La-Lafayette has been placed as an underdog in this game is their quarterback play. The Ragin’ Cajuns start LSU transfer Anthony Jennings at quarterback, and he has been wildly inconsistent at times. On the season, Jennings has 2,083 passing yards, but also a poor 11/10 TD/INT ratio. He has improved since transferring though, as Jennings posted a 48.8% completion percentage in his last season at LSU and a 61.1% completion percentage this year.

Even though La Lafayette is 8-4 ATS this season, I don’t like the prospect of backing a team with a negative net point differential - just getting three points - against a team in Southern Miss that beat an SEC team this year. The only weakness I see for Southern Miss is in the kicking game, as they had placekicker Parker Shaunfield, a player that may see playing time on Sundays, go down after the November 5th game against Charlotte. That will keep them from many field goal attempts of over 30 yards. Look for the Golden Eagles’ passing game to carry the day though, and cover the 3 points in the New Orleans Bowl on Saturday, December 17th.

Free College Football Pick:Golden Eagles -3.5Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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