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Louisiana vs. Marshall prediction and pick for this week's New Orleans Bowl matchup between the two teams. Don't miss Alex Kirshner's pick for this one

Louisiana vs. Marshall Prediction, Pick Against the Spread, and Latest Odds

Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns vs. Marshall Thundering Herd - New Orleans Bowl

Spread: Louisiana -5

Total: 54.5

Game time: Saturday, 9:15 p.m. ET

Where to watch: ESPN

Louisiana vs. Marshall odds

Louisiana vs. Marshall Prediction

Bettor beware that some variables are hard to figure out ahead of Louisiana and Marshall’s Saturday night date in the New Orleans Bowl. Of course, variables are hard to figure out in every college football game, but there are more than usual in this case.

For one thing, as in any bowl game, there’s a heightened chance of some late player opt-outs. For another, coaching staffs nowadays have to spend a lot of time in the runup to bowls preparing for the mid-December National Signing Day, and we can’t know from the outside which coaches will have their teams prepared and which won’t. And for yet another –– and this one is special to Louisiana this week –– the Cajuns just lost their head coach, Billy Napier, to Florida. That didn’t seem to bother them much when they were beating Appalachian State in the Sun Belt Championship, and they’ve got someone already on their staff, offensive coordinator Michael Desormeaux, sliding into Napier’s chair permanently. But the UL coaching staff in this game will be different than the one that worked with the team all season.

So, there are a lot of reasons that things in this game might not go how they should on paper. But if you’re looking to bet the New Orleans Bowl, the best value proposition is to side with the de-facto visiting team, Marshall. On a truly neutral field, I’d view this matchup as a tossup, or maybe give a one- or two-point edge to the Herd. I’d swing that a point or two in Louisiana’s direction because the game is in New Orleans, but I think I’d dock that same amount given the significant coaching upheaval the Cajuns have gone through ahead of kickoff. Put together, if I were building my own spread for this game, Marshall would be favored by a point or two. So as five-point underdogs, I feel pretty good about backing the Herd.

Marshall lost two of its last three games, the latter in a blowout at home against Western Kentucky with a chance to win the Conference USA East. That wasn’t encouraging, and a 7-5 record in Charles Huff’s first year was a mild disappointment. But I think Marshall’s a better team than that. A three-game losing streak from mid-September to early October could’ve easily been all wins, as the Herd fell by four, one, and six points (including two losses to pretty good App State and East Carolina teams). They’ve got a pretty good pass game behind QB Grant Wells, who’s supposed to be good to go for the bowl after getting hurt in the WKU game. They run the ball efficiently with tailback Rasheen Ali (5.4 yards per carry) despite not having an overly punishing offensive line. Wells has one overwhelming favorite target in wideout Corey Gammage, and there’s a chance Louisiana finds a way to neutralize him and Wells doesn’t recover. But Marshall has enough good players that the Herd should score somewhere in the 20s.

That’ll require a good effort, because Louisiana has a great defense and hasn’t let a team score more than 21 points since Week 7. But Marshall has one of the better offenses the Cajuns have seen, and they’ll be playing without star coordinator Patrick Toney, who’s already gone to Gainesville with Napier. I can buy that UL will face some turbulence in this game, especially if the three weeks between Wells’ last appearance and the bowl have helped him heal. It’s also worth something that Louisiana’s offense scored 21 and 24 points against ULM and App State (one lousy defense and one good one) and that despite the Cajuns having one of the more athletic rosters in the Group of Five, the offense has only really turned it on a couple of times this year. (Its best showing was probably in the first of two App meetings, when UL scored 41.)

This should be one of the best games of the bowl calendar. Both teams are fun, and they’re even enough that taking five points in either direction seems like the wisest play.

Louisiana vs. Marshall Pick

Article Author


Alex Kirshner covers college football for the Moon Crew newsletter. He is a co-author of The Sinful Seven: Sci-Fi Western Legends of the NCAA, and he lives in Washington, D.C.


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