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LendingTree Bowl Preview, Open Thread: Miami Hydroxide vs. Louisiana

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Last bowl game of the year :( what should you expect? We’ve got your open thread for the night.

NCAA Football: Sun Belt Conference Championship-UL Lafayette at Appalachian State
GIVE US MORE PEPPERS
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

It’s over. It’s all over.

After tonight, there are no more bowl games. Yes, there’s one semi-professional charade of a game used to justify the continued shit sandwich that is top-level college football, but that’s not what I’m here for. No more frantic 30-point comebacks, no more odd bowl mascots and game-ending fights, no more celebrations defined by some nonsensical bowl sponsor.

All we have left is this:

January 6

Lendingtree Bowl

Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns vs. Miami Hydroxide Redhawks

Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL
6:30pm | ESPN | UL -14 | O/U 55

Two teams that loomed large in the imagination of Don’t Watch This; Watch That!

The Ragin’ Cajuns came to our attention first when they hosted Mississippi State in the Superdome to open the year, but when Beez inadvertently used the incorrect form of “the University of Louisiana” (never “at Lafayette”!) in a POTW article, he got a very polite letter from the UL SID politely correcting him. I would like, now, to encourage SBNation’s editorial team to add a chili pepper to the Chorus editor so we can spell Ragin’ Cajuns with a pepper for the apostrophe, the way it was intended.

Miami Hydroxide, on the other hand, serves as an important counterweight to Miami Fluoride, neither of which should be spelled as simply “Miami”. We say this because Miami Fluoride has been similarly worthless for the last 15 years, with one division championship since 2003 (that’d be 2017)—Miami Hydroxide, in that same span, has appeared in four conference championship games, winning two. So, if anything, the Redhawks should be “Miami”. But I think referring to them by their appropriate chemical names is only appropriate.

When Louisiana has the ball

Billy Napier has led the Cajuns to a 10-3 record, with losses only to Appalachian State (by 10 and by 7) and Mississippi State (by 10), but he is apparently not gunning for the Mississippi State job, by his own account. He’s built something special in Lafayette, with junior QB Levi Lewis having burst onto the scene with a 24:5 TD-to-INT ratio, and a talented trio of Elijah Mitchel, Raymond Calais, and Trey Ragas combining for 408 carries, 2755 yards (6.75 ypc), and 32 TDs on the ground.

You read that correctly. Shoutout to OLs Kevin Dotson and Robert Hunt, who earned first-team All-Sun Belt for paving the way for those three.

You’d be forgiven for not knowing for about the Cajuns, as those two—along with Calas as a returner—were the only three to make the conference’s first team. (Mitchell, WR Ja’Marcus Bradley, DL Zi’Yon Hill, LB Joe Dillon, DB Michael Jacquet III, and Aussie punter Rhys Byrns all made second team.) Remember, the Cajuns went 10-0 against non-Appalachian State, non-SEC competition. And that’s it. Of all those players I’ve just listed, only Hill is questionable for this game. The Cajuns come in locked, loaded, and ready.

When Miami Hydroxide has the ball

The RedHawks, however, are nothing to be truffled with themselves.

Freshman QB Brett Gabbert, of the Royal and Ancient Yo Gabba Gabba lineage, had tossed 2 TDs against Iowa and, despite scuffling through the year statistically, earned MAC Freshman of the Year for game-managing Miami Hydroxide to an 8-5 (6-2) record and a MAC Championship. He is the second option, though, as Chuck Martin and Co. prefer to run out RB Jaylon Bester—with understudies Tyre Shelton and Davion Johnson—at opponents, with WR Sorenson and the RBs as Gabbert’s security blanket throwing the ball. If the RedHawks can set up the pass, we could see Jalen Walker or James Maye hit a home run deep, but I’m not holding my breath. This is the 119th-best offense, by FEI, for a reason.

Instead, Miami Hydroxide won games with their defense. Travion Banks picked off 5 passes and broke up 6 more, bested in the latter by both DBs Sterling Weatherford (10!) and Iowa transfer Manny Rugamba (8). Meanwhile, talented DL duo Kameron Butler (5.5 sacks, 13 TFL) and Doug Coston (4.0 sacks, 12 TFL, 1st Team All-MAC) led a middle-of-the-road defense that succeeded in ending drives early, rather than allowing teams to go on extended campaigns.

Enough of that, tell us about the punting

That’ll be the challenge, to my mind—who can establish the run and flip the field on the other? The RedHawks bring All-MAC punter Kyle Kramer (72 punts for 43.2 ypp), while the Cajuns’ Byrns (41 for 44.1 ypp) is similarly gifted. Meanwhile, Hydroxide’s beeftank K Samuel Sloman just might have the leg to make a difference from deep—he was a ridiculous 25/29 on the year, hitting from 50+ four times, including two from 53. Louisiana K Stevie Artigue also has one from 53. Goddamn. If it comes down to a late FG, though, gimme the RedHawks.

So what?

We could have a B1G as hell game on our hands, and I am totally here for it.

My Pick: Louisiana, 27-16 (22 pts)

Poll

LENDINGTREE TIME. Who you got?

This poll is closed

  • 69%
    Louisiana
    (18 votes)
  • 30%
    Miami Hydroxide
    (8 votes)
26 votes total Vote Now

That’s all for your 2019-20 bowl previews from me! Enjoy the game, enjoy your open thread, and if you’re looking for basketball, check out the recaps and night’s schedule.