Louisiana may have wanted a chance at avenging its only loss of the season last week against Coastal Carolina, but the Sun Belt Championship Game was called off due to COVID-19 issues spoiling that eagerly anticipated rematch. There was some hope that the Ragin’ Cajuns and Chanticleers might just meet in a bowl game. However, with Coastal Carolina getting a matchup with Liberty in the Cure Bowl, Louisiana is left to try and take out its frustrations on UTSA.
Beating the Roadrunners will be no small task, though. UTSA closed the season on a three-game winning streak that included blowout victories over UTEP and North Texas. Motivation should also not be an issue for UTSA considering this is only the program’s second bowl appearance and first since 2016. That’s a credit to the job coach Jeff Traylor did in his first year.
This is actually just the second time this bowl game will be played as the First Responder Bowl. It first took the name in 2018 after being known as the Heart of Dallas Bowl. But the 2018 game between Boise State and Boston College was canceled due to bad weather. That should not be an issue this time around as the Dallas forecast calls for mild temperatures and sunny skies.
Louisiana: A win would give the Ragin’ Cajuns their second straight season with double-digit victories, which is especially impressive considering the program had never won 10 games until last season. It’s a credit to the job that third-year coach Billy Napier has done. After getting this program into the top 25, Napier’s name is getting some attention on the coaching carousel. With South Carolina and Auburn having made their coaching hires, he may be staying put for now, though.
UTSA: The Roadrunners can match their best win total since becoming an FBS program if they pull an upset over Louisiana. Both teams like to run the football, but UTSA is particularly strong in the ground game. It finished the regular season second in C-USA at 214.7 rushing yards per game. Sophomore back and C-USA Offensive Player of the Year Sincere McCormick has led the way with 1,345 yards and 11 touchdowns in 10 games. If he gets to play a full 12-14 game season next year and becomes more of a factor in the passing game, he could become one of the top backs in the sport.
Game: First Responder Bowl
Date: Saturday, Dec. 26 | Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Gerald J. Ford Stadium — Dallas
TV: ABC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
First Responder Bowl prediction, picks
With the exception of a 24-3 loss to FAU, there haven’t really been any lopsided losses for UTSA this season. The Roadrunners even held Army and BYU under 30 points and kept both games reasonably close. Considering that both these teams are run-oriented, it seems unlikely that this turns into a high-scoring affair. So while Louisiana is deservedly favored to win the game, the Roadrunners should be able to cover. Pick: UTSA +13.5 | Louisiana 27, UTSA 17
So who wins Louisiana vs. UTSA? And which side of the spread hits well over 60 percent of the time? Visit SportsLine right now to see which side of the UTSA vs. Louisiana spread to back, all from the advanced model on a 55-35 run on its top-rated college football picks this season.
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