Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 7:00 PM
The single most important factor in Saturday Night’s New Orleans Bowl matching Louisiana-Lafayette and Tulane is the availability of Lafayette quarterback Terrance Broadway. Louisiana Lafayette is clearly the better team if he’s playing (as you’ll see in our stat breakdowns below). They may have very few ways of putting the ball in the end zone if he isn’t!
As we go to press, Broadway is saying the right things about hoping to play with a broken bone in his right throwing arm. But, the market is going with the assumption that he will be out. Tulane is currently a small favorite (playing on their home field by the way). They would not be if Broadway was at full strength.
Let’s get to our key indicator numbers so you can see what we’re talking about…
Won-Lost Records (strength of schedule)
Lafayette: 8-4 (#133 schedule in USA Today)
Tulane: 7-5 (#98 schedule in USA Today)
Well, this category doesn’t tell the story so much! The numbers here do suggest equality after you adjust for strength of schedule. It will show up more in the boxscore material.
Lafayette: 6.3 on offense, 5.7 on defense
Tulane: 4.5 on offense, 4.9 on defense
Here we go. Lafayette was +0.6 for the year, while Tulane was -0.4 in differential. And, you cans see that we’re dealing with an offensive mismatch if Broadway is on the field and healthy. Tulane has one of the worst offenses in the country when you combine poor yardage with their weak schedule. They would have had trouble keeping up indoors on a fast track.
Tulane was also the beneficiary of turnover luck that probably wouldn’t have held up against a big time quarterback. They played a lot like San Francisco from the NFL this year in terms of style. Conservative offense…aggressive defense…try to avoid mistakes. That can work well against weak opposition…but the turnovers start to come when you step up in class and have to match your opponent on the scoreboard. Tulane likely would have lost yardage vs. Broadway, and tied or lost the turnover category given the nature of what happens in bowl games.
Lafayette: 4-8 ATS
Tulane: 9-3 ATS
Now…there’s a chance Lafayette with Broadway would have been overpriced, given the poor showing from Lafayette on the board this season. They were the best team in the Sun Belt…but not as good as the market was expecting on a week-by-week basis. Tulane made a fortune for backers because oddsmakers just never took them seriously enough. Tulane would have been a live dog vs. Broadway. Will they be a value favorite if he’s on the sidelines unable to play?
Current Line: Tulane by 2, total 49.5
Sharps hit Tulane when they first went on the board at pick-em. We’re currently seeing Tulane -2, though there are hints that Lafayette will bring that back down. And, if Broadway can suddenly go on game day at something approximating full strength, then the Sun Belt champs will become favorites. Be sure you monitor the internet for news about that and line move developments.
JIM HURLEY won’t play this game for his clients unless there’s an obvious edge. He’s been in close contact with his sources all week. But, sometimes close contact is the reason you PASS a game rather than getting involved. To purchase the final word for Saturday bowl action, visit the website in the morning before kickoff of the New Mexico Bowl matching Colorado State and Washington State. We have a HUGE weekend on tap with major releases in both college and pro football action.
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NFL coverage resumes tomorrow and Monday. We’ll crunch the numbers in Chicago/Philadelphia in our Sunday report to get you ready for that prime time telecast on NBC. Monday, it’s Atlanta/San Francisco on ESPN, in the final game to be played at Candlestick Park. Bowl coverage resumes next week with this schedule:
Tuesday: Hawaii Bowl with Oregon State vs. Boise State
NBA: Special Christmas Day NBA Previews on an off-day for football
Thursday: Poinsettia Bowl with Utah State vs. Northern Illinois
Friday: Fight Hunger Bowl with Washington vs. BYU
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