R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl 2013 Preview: Tulane Green Wave vs. Lousiana Ragin Cajun

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

A team that is very rarely in a bowl goes up against an opponent potentially missing one of its most important pieces

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Saturday, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN

Suggested slogan: Better than an Ice Road Truckers marathon

The teams: Tulane Green Wave and Louisiana Ragin Cajuns

How Tulane got here: Wait -- Tulane is in a bowl? Yes, for the first time in 11 years, the Green Wave are rolling into the postseason. Well, that might be overstating things a bit. Tulane got off to a hot start, going 6-2 while becoming the first non-AQ team to beat East Carolina in the process. But after the victory against Tulsa that moved the Wave to that 6-2 record, the bottom fell out; Tulane would lose all three road games in November, with only the home win against UTEP ensuring the Wave will finish the year with a winning record. The keys to Tulane's success this year have been defense and the kindness of strangers. The offense is absolutely dreadful, regardless of the presence of Joe Montana's offspring. But the defense is allowing just 354.3 yards a game, and opponents have turned the ball over a jaw-dropping 33 times. Tulane has more takeaways than every team in the country save Houston and Florida State. But the Wave also like to pay it forward, turning over the ball 21 times this season. Leading the way on takeaways has been Lorenzo Doss, who has seven interceptions, a fumble recovery and two defensive touchdowns.

How Louisiana-Lafayette got here: Between the bookends. The Cajuns lost two games to begin the season and two games to end the 2013 campaign, but won eight straight in between to lock up their place in this august game. But it's the last loss, a 30-8 loss to South Alabama, that should cause Louisiana some concern. The Cajuns played that game without quarterback Terrance Broadway and gained just 212 yards of total offensive, with more than a fifth of those coming on a single play. And it looks like Broadway is going to be out for the bowl game. Even after his worst performance of the season in his final game, Broadway was 154-of-247 passing for 2,276 yards, 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also ran for 421 yards on 117 carries. It's not terribly hard to see why the Cajuns' offense imploded without Broadway.

College football fans care because: On the off-chance that Broadway does play, it's a chance to see a great player you haven't watched much this year. And, even if not, it's not that often you get to see Tulane in a bowl.

SEC fans care because: Tulane used to be an SEC member.

Watch this game if...: You like watching history, if you consider a once-a-decade appearance in an exhibition game history.

Bottom line: It's hard to pick this game without knowing for certain whether Broadway will play. I don't like the Cajuns' chances to win if Broadway doesn't play, especially given how motivated Tulane is going to be for the rare chance at a postseason win. If I have to assume that Broadway misses the game, I have to go with the Green Wave. Tulane 24, Louisiana 10

Line: Tulane by 1.5

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