Nevada-Louisiana-Lafayette Preview

Nevada-Louisiana-Lafayette Preview

Published Dec. 15, 2014 9:46 p.m. ET

Louisiana-Lafayette is in its comfort zone for bowl season again.

The Ragin' Cajuns return to the New Orleans Bowl looking to win it for the fourth consecutive year when they play in the first bowl of 2014 against Nevada on Saturday.

Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4) bounced back from having a six-game winning streak snapped by defeating Troy 42-23 on Nov. 29. Terrance Broadway completed a strong season by going 14 of 19 for 142 yards and rushing for 78 and a touchdown, while Elijah McGuire rushed for 169 and two scores.

McGuire (1,165) and Broadway (646) help power a running game that includes Alonzo Harris (737) and averages 229.4 yards, good for 23rd in the FBS. McGuire has run for 14 touchdowns and Harris 12.


They'll look to lead the Ragin' Cajuns to another win in the very familiar surroundings of the Superdome. Louisiana-Lafayette knocked off Tulane 24-21 last year, giving it three consecutive wins in this bowl by a total of 14 points.

Broadway was the New Orleans Bowl MVP in 2012, when he went 21 of 32 for 316 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 108 and a score in a 43-34 victory over East Carolina.

"They (Nevada) are a program that has had a lot of bowl experience and it will be quite a challenge as we go down to play them," coach Mark Hudspeth told Louisiana-Lafayette's official website. "They're very competitive. When you look at the way they've played against teams that have gone on to bowl games, they've played the majority of them within one score. In other games they were supposed to win, they won those and did their job."

The Wolf Pack (7-5) mirror the Ragin' Cajuns offensively, as they're a rush-heavy team that also boasts a running senior quarterback in Cody Fajardo. He led Nevada with 997 yards and 13 TDs on the ground - passing for 2,374 yards - while Don Jackson (932, seven) and James Butler (620, five) also key a rushing attack that averages 215.2 yards.

The Wolf Pack avoided a third straight loss to close the season by running for a season-high 408 yards in a 49-27 victory at UNLV on Nov. 29. Fajardo rushed for 143, Jackson had 132 and Butler 116 as Nevada held the ball for 33 minutes, 39 seconds.

"To run it the way we ran it, we showed that we were tough guys tonight - physically and mentally,'' coach Brian Polian said.

Polian's team has rushed for at least 223 yards in each of its last five games.

"They're an outstanding team. They can run it, they can throw it and they play good defense," Hudspeth said. "They are a very multiple team on offense and they spread the ball a lot of different ways to a lot of different people. (Fajardo) does a great job in distributing the football."

Nevada hasn't had quite the level of recent success in bowl games as Louisiana-Lafayette, dropping six of its past seven. It lost 49-48 to Arizona in the last one, the 2012 New Mexico Bowl.

Still, the Wolf Pack rebounded from a 4-8 effort in 2013 that snapped their eight-year streak of bowl appearances.

"I am very excited that our players and staff will have one more opportunity to compete together at the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl," Polian said. "The game presents us a chance to pursue an eighth win on the season and also serves as a reward for our players, who have worked so hard this year.

"This bowl also gives our young people a chance to spend some time in New Orleans and continue to enjoy the opportunities and experiences that being a football player at the University of Nevada provides."

The Wolf Pack have forced 26 turnovers and their plus-11 margin is tied for 11th in the country. Eight Nevada players combined to make 13 interceptions and they returned three for touchdowns, among the most in the FBS.

Nevada and Louisiana-Lafayette were members of the Big West Conference from 1993-95, with Nevada winning 38-14 in the teams' only meeting Sept. 2, 1995.