Louisiana and Houston both kept their streaks of bowl appearances alive this season and are bracing for their clash Friday, Dec. 23 in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.
The Ragin’ Cajuns (6-6) will make their fifth consecutive bowl appearance while the Cougars (7-5) are in a bowl for the third consecutive season.
Like other teams in their respective situations, Houston and Louisiana are already concentrating on recruiting and the transfer portal as each program looks to build for the future.
But Houston coach Dana Holgorsen isn’t discounting what a victory in this game could mean.
“I think for bowl games to survive they’ve got to create some interesting matchups and I think this is an interesting matchup,” Holgorsen said recently. “I know the history of the Independence Bowl. I’ve watched it forever. It’s got a lot of great history and tradition, and I’m excited about digging into that.”
The Cougars lead the all-time series against Louisiana 6-3, but the Ragin’ Cajuns won the most recent matchup 31-28 in Houston in 2006. This will be the first bowl matchup between them.
Houston possesses one of the most potent offenses and passing games in the nation, scoring 37.2 points per game and passing for 321.1 yards per game.
Quarterback Clayton Tune has thrown for 3,845 yards, 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He is one of the players the Cougars are trying to replace next season, likely through the portal.
His top target is Nathaniel Dell, who leads the team with 103 catches for 1,354 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Louisiana has already been hit hard by key departures to the NFL draft, losing defensive end Andre Jones, which makes its defensive task even more difficult in this game. The Ragin’ Cajuns will have to rely on their less experienced defenders to try and slow Houston’s aerial assault.
“John (Stephens), Pete (LeBlanc), Errol (Rogers Jr.), Jake Bernard, those guys need to step up a little bit and play their best game,” Louisiana coach Michael Desormeaux told reporters recently. “Then you add (wide receiver) Lance (Legendre), who’s played more and more as the season has gone on, but now it’s his time to go out there and do it.”
Chandler Fields (954 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions) leads Louisiana’s passing game although his top target, Michael Jefferson, has also declared for the draft. Louisiana’s leading rusher Chris Smith (579 yards, three touchdowns) will play.
–Field Level Media