Consider yourself warned — Ragin’ Cajuns might beat Aztecs in New Orleans Bowl

Posted: 12/17/2011 in college football
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

One thing we see often during the college bowl season is that one team will be much more motivated than the other.

The team that the bowl game means more to is a bigger barometer of who will win the game than which team is more talented.

If you go by that criterion, then San Diego State is in trouble tonight when it meets Louisiana-Lafayette in the New Orleans Bowl.

Remember what a big deal it was in San Diego last December when the Aztecs were in the Poinsettia Bowl for their first bowl contest in 13 years? Remember how the Aztecs then trounced Navy in convincing fashion on game night?

The shoe is on the other foot this time.

Louisiana-Lafayette is making its first bowl appearance in 41 years and it just happens to be at the Louisiana Superdome, the facility every kid born in Bayou Country craves to play in someday.

Making the task tougher for the Aztecs is that the Ragin’ Cajuns actually have some talent to go with the intangibles. It was quite an eye-opening task breaking down the roster earlier this week and seeing that Louisiana-Lafayette wasn’t your typical pushover Sun Belt squad (see stellar New Orleans Bowl preview here – http://clarionledger.sportsdirectinc.com/football/ncaaf-preview.aspx?page=/data/NCAAF/matchups/g8_preview_4.html).

San Diego State possesses the top overall player in this game in running back Ronnie Hillman, whose 1,656 yards are second most in school history – nope, not behind Marshall Faulk but George Jones, who had 1,842 in 1995. One of the keys will be getting Hillman to run wild on a Louisiana-Lafayette team that is just average in defending the run.

Hillman finished third in the nation behind Oregon’s LaMichael James and Western Kentucky star Bobby Rainey. A barometer that can be used is Rainey, who had one of his three 200-yard rushing performances of the season (206) against Louisiana-Lafayette.

Quarterback Ryan Lindley is the school’s all-time leader in career passing yards (12,277) and the Aztecs feature two defensive standouts in linebacker Miles Burris (19 tackles for loss) and cornerback Larry Parker (seven interceptions).

Louisiana-Lafayette has a proficient offense led by quarterback Blaine Gautier, who has 20 touchdowns to match the school single-season record held by longtime NFL quarterback Jake Delhomme. The Ragin’ Cajuns also have returned seven interceptions for touchdowns – repeat, seven interceptions for touchdowns – and that haul is second-most in college football history behind this season’s Southern Mississippi squad.

The propensity for making big plays in what will be an emotional game for the Ragin’ Cajuns – kind of fun to type in Ragin’ Cajuns even with that annoying apostrophe – could be the difference.

San Diego State has been prone to slow starts and then rallying in the second half but the Aztecs can’t afford to dig a deep hole against Louisiana-Lafayette.

These Ragin’ Cajuns are better than anybody in San Diego suspects – and they have much more to play for.

Remember all the bravado from San Diego State fans last season after the program’s first bowl victory in 41 years?

The Ragin’ Cajuns easily top that long wait. The program’s one-and-only bowl victory was back in 1943 – in something called the Oil Bowl.

Do not be surprised if the Aztecs lose to the school that goes by Ragin’ Cajuns. You have been forewarned.

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