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Independence Bowl Preview: ULM, Ohio in a Battle of Giant Killers

The SEC ran out of bowl eligible teams before filling this slot, so it sent its surrogate instead.

Wesley Hitt

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl, Friday, 2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

Why it exists: The town of Shreveport, Louisiana is so overrun with visitors this time of year, you might as well stage a bowl game.

The teams: Louisiana-Monroe and Ohio

How Louisiana-Monroe got here: Back in September, ULM became America's favorite underdog. It knocked off Arkansas in overtime on September 8, barely lost to Auburn in overtime the next week, and very nearly beat Baylor the next week. In Sun Belt play, the team's only losses came to conference champ Arkansas State and fellow 6-2 team UL-Lafayette. Notably, star QB Kolton Browning missed most of the ULL game and all of the ASU game to injury. Browning was the team's leading rusher on the season, and the team averaged 38 points per game when he didn't miss time. He's the player to watch.

How Ohio got here: While ULM got plenty of mileage out of its early season battles, Ohio has the best win between these two teams. The Bobcats knocked off Penn State in Happy Valley in Week 1, racking up 499 yards in their 24-14 victory. QB Tyler Tettleton, son of former MLB player Mickey Tettleton, is the leader on offense, but the team does have a 1500-yard rusher too in Beau Blankenship. The team was one of the last mid-majors to take a loss, but once the team went from 7-0 to 7-1, the dam burst. They lost four of their last five games, though three of them were to the cream of the MAC.

College football fans care because: Browning vs. Tettleton is one of the better quarterback duels of bowl season.

SEC fans care because: ULM was almost won a spot as the SEC West's eighth member in September, and it's an opportunity to make John L. Smith and Gene Chizik jokes for three hours.

Watch this game if...: You've got the afternoon off work and would like to have some fun.

cocknfire's pick: Louisiana-Monroe 34, Ohio 31

Line: Louisiana-Monroe by 7

(Record straight up: 7-4; ATS 3-8)