2022 Independence Bowl Preview: Houston Vs Louisiana

With only two days until Christmas, maybe you are scrambling for a gift or trying to figure how to get some last-second wrapping completed. And while the stressors of the holiday season might arise, never fear that college football bowl season will keep you nice and cozy. For anyone whose Christmas weekend is starting early, the Independence Bowl has you covered. Houston and Louisiana are both traveling roughly the same distance up to Shreveport to square off. In this Independence Bowl preview, we take a look at what factors will determine the outcome of this game.

How To Watch

Date: Friday, December 23
Game Time: 3:00 ET
Venue: Independence Stadium, Shreveport, LA
How To Watch: ESPN

Which Houston Team Will Show Up?

Dana Holgersen’s squad came into this season with much larger aspirations. Coming off a 10-2 campaign, many in the media had Houston pegged as the front-runner to earn the NY6 bowl bid for the Group of five. Some even gave them a realistic shot at making the playoff. However, after a week two loss to Texas Tech,  it launched the Cougars to a 2-3 start to the season. However, the Cougars deserve some credit. They won five of its next six to get to bowl eligibility before falling flat in a regular season loss to Tulsa. But the on-paper talent this team has, specifically on the offensive side of the ball, is as good as any in the Group of five.

The Cougars average 37.2 points per game, which is 14th best nationally. Their offense is led by their passing game. The rank 7th nationally averaging 321.1 yards a game through the air. But the rushing attack does enough to give defenses something to worry about. They rush for 142.5 yards per game, which is tied for 78th. The offense got some unexpected news from its standout wide receiver. Nathaniel Dell has decided to play, even though he declared he was leaving for the NFL Draft. Dell has 103 catches and 15 touchdowns on the season. He is one of the most explosive playmakers in the country.

Needless to say, quarterback Clayton Tune is happy to have his top option back for the game. This all but guarantees this Houston offense will be lighting up the Shreveport scoreboard. Tune’s numbers are video game-esque, throwing for 3,845 yards and 37 touchdowns. But some of that is in part of having to make up for a Houston defense that has its own issues.

On the positive side, the Cougar’s defense comes up with a ton of sacks and lots of big plays in the backfield. However, as this Independence Bowl preview spoils for the viewer, they still get moved around by just about every offense it faces. On average, the defense allows 33.5 points per game, tying them for 117th nationally. They are also surrendering 430 yards of offense a game, which ranks 110th nationally. This defensive porousness was on full display in November’s 77-63 loss to SMU.

Is Louisiana Just Happy To Be Here?

In the last few years, Louisiana was one of the top teams of the Sun Belt. But in year one under Michael Desormeaux, they weren’t able to maintain those same high levels with Billy Napier leaving for Florida. That said, the Ragin’ Cajun’s fought its way through the season and won its season finale against Texas State to gain bowl eligibility. Offensively, this team is very “meh.”

“The Ragin’ Cajuns average just under four touchdowns a game (27 points, precisely) per game, 77th-best in the country. Their offense is pretty balanced as the are ranked 75th nationally in the passing game (224.9 yards per game) and 76th on the ground (143 yards per game). Quarterback Ben Wooldridge suffered a season-ending injury in their 10th game of the season. Wooldridge had passed for 1,661 yards, 15 touchdowns, and five interceptions before Chandler Fields took over for the Ragin’ Cajuns. Fields hasn’t thrown for over 200 yards in a game since taking over in the last two games of the season.

The Louisiana defense is the stronger side of the ball for the Ragin’ Cajuns. They yield just over three touchdowns a game (22.8 points per game), tying them for 37th nationally. Both phases of the defense are fairly balanced in terms of where a team can beat them. They concede 142.2 rushing yards per game (ranked 50th) and 219.3 passing yards per game (ranked 59th). Eric Garror has been a standout player in the secondary with six interceptions and two passes defended this year.

Independence Bowl Preview Prediction

Expect plenty of points in this one. The over is 9–2–1 in Houston’s games this season. If Louisiana is going to give itself a chance in this one, it has to keep the mistakes to a minimum. And they are good in turnover margin. Houston, as evident by their record compared to their talent, has a way of falling asleep here and there during games. We know that they are also especially vulnerable against the pass. However, Louisiana is 2-6 when allowing at least 115 rushing yards. In what will be Houston’s last game as a member of the AAC, Houston will throw it all over the yard. And they should be able to at least get closer to their rushing average in this one without a problem. The Cougars offense is the deciding factor in this high-scoring affair.

Houston 45, Lousiana 35


More Posts

Send Us A Message