Independence Bowl Odds
The Ohio Bobcats (8-4) and Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks will lock horns Friday, Dec. 28 at 2:00 PM ET in the Independence Bowl, which will take place at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, Louisiana. Oddsmakers have listed Louisiana-Monroe as a seven-point favorite and have set the total at 60.0.
Why Louisiana-Monroe Covers
What a season it has been for Louisiana-Monroe, which has earned its first bowl appearance since joining what is now referred to as the FBS in 1994.
The Warhawks won’t be a bit intimidated by an Ohio program that has enjoyed its fair share of success in recent years. That’s because Louisiana-Monroe has had its fair share of success against the big boys this season.
The Warhawks knocked off then-No. 8 Arkansas 34-31 Sept. 8 and also showed well against Auburn and Baylor, losing to these programs by eight points combined. While Arkansas and Auburn are down, they still possess more talent than what the Warhawks will be up against in this one.
After narrow losses to the Tigers and Bears, Louisiana-Monroe rebounded to win seven of its final nine regular-season contests. It may not have lost a single game the rest of the way had quarterback Kolton Browning not missed nearly two complete games with a foot injury.
The Warhawks lost both games in which Browning missed time. That comes as little surprise considering how effective he’s been this season. The dual-threat signal caller has passed for 2,830 yards with 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has also rushed for a team-high 441 yards and seven scores.
Louisiana-Monroe, which ranks 26th in the nation in passing offense with 296.7 yards per game, should have plenty of success moving the football through the air against an Ohio defense that ranks 56th against the pass with 229.8 yards per game.
Consider that Ohio is on a 4-12 against the spread slide versus good passing teams that average 250.0 or more passing yards per game.
Why Ohio Covers
Ohio also showed it can hang with the big boys. The Bobcats defeated Penn State (8-4) 24-14 on Sept. 1 on its way to a 7-0 start. It was the programs best start since 1968, and with it they became bowl eligible for the first time in six seasons.
While the Bobcats finished the regular season with losses in each of their last three games, they surely can’t be counted out here. They have the edge in terms of big game experience as this will be their fourth straight bowl trip. They defeated Utah State 24-23 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl last season.
While the Louisiana-Monroe offense has shined, the defense has struggled. The Warhawks rank 73rd in the nation in total defense with 407.3 yards allowed per game. The defense has especially been poor against the pass, ranking 108th in the country with 271.5 yards per game. This unit could have a tough time slowing down Ohio junior quarterback Tyler Tettleton, who has completed 62.0 percent of his throws for 2,513 yards with 16 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
The Bobcats are on a rock solid 15-7 against the spread run versus teams that have a winning record. It is also worth noting that the Warhawks are on a 0-4 against the spread run versus MAC opponents.
I have picked Louisiana-Monroe to win this game. Take a look at this page to see the rest of my bowl predictions. Also, take a look at who Jack Jones, Brandon Lee, Vegas Top Cappers and Carolina Sports have selected in the Independence Bowl.