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Football notebook: Louisiana reminds Chuck Martin of Cincinnati Bearcats

<p>Miami will battle Louisiana for the LendingTree Bowl trophy tonight, Jan. 6.</p>

Miami will battle Louisiana for the LendingTree Bowl trophy tonight, Jan. 6.

MOBILE, Ala. — Louisiana crushed the Ohio Bobcats in September, but they’re not the Miami rival Chuck Martin sees in the Ragin’ Cajuns.

The RedHawks’ head coach thinks Louisiana is comparable to the Cincinnati Bearcats.

“They remind me of Cincinnati as far as their size, strength and speed,” Martin said. “They’re long, athletic, and run and hit guys on defense. Offensively, they get so many big plays just because of their ability to take a seven-yard run and turn it into a home run.”

Miami got walloped, 35-13, at Cincinnati on Sept. 14, but that was four months and a Mid-American Conference Championship ago for the RedHawks.

The Ragin’ Cajuns hold a 10-3 record, losing to Mississippi State in their season-opener and twice to eventual Sun Belt Conference Champion, No. 20 Appalachian State. 

“I have a couple buddies that coach in that league. They congratulated me on our season, and the next thing in their text was, ‘That team you’re playing has a bunch of dudes.’ I’m like, ‘Thanks,’” Martin said, laughing. “Every text I got from people said, ‘They got guys down there.’ I said, ‘I know, I’m watching them. They’ve got guys.’”

With three rushers who have tallied more 750 yards on the ground, the Ragin’ Cajuns are a running team.

They’ve run for 41 touchdowns while averaging 6.4 yards per carry. 

Their junior quarterback, Levi Lewis, is also mobile and reminds Martin of one of his former prodigies from his days as Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator.

“He’s crazy athletic,” Martin said. “He’s a lot like Everett Golson, as far as his ability to move in the pocket and sustain plays. One on one, I have not seen anyone come close to tackling the guy — not even close.”

Defensively, they allow only 19 points a game and rank 21st nationally in scoring defense.

The 2020 LendingTree Bowl will kick off Monday night at 7:30 p.m. EST inside Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The game will air on ESPN.

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Injury update

Martin said he does not anticipate injuries holding any of his players out of Monday’s game.

“The 30, 40 days off have been nice,” Martin said. “We’ll be as healthy as we’ve been since Iowa (Miami’s season-opener). We’re excited to not only to have everybody healthy and playing, but also a lot of the kids feel a lot better than they did in the MAC Championship game.”

The RedHawks are without redshirt sophomore backup quarterback Jackson Williamson and redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Isaac Hampton. Both left the team and entered their names into the transfer portal.

Miami could set LendingTree Bowl record

Though 2020 is the first season under the LendingTree name, the bowl game in Mobile has been around since 1999.

Miami has played here twice before and won both of its previous appearances. If the RedHawks defeat Louisiana tonight, they will become the winningest team in the history of the bowl game with three victories.

They are currently tied with Arkansas State, Marshall, Southern Mississippi, Toledo, Troy and Tulsa with two.

Can bowling predict ... the bowl?

Thursday, the RedHawks and the Ragin’ Cajuns followed a Mobile bowl game tradition. 

The teams met at a bowling alley and squared off in a friendly competition. Miami won, which could mean good news for the RedHawks.

Since the inception of the Mobile bowl game, 15 of the 20 bowling victors also won on the football field.