MOBILE – Louisiana and Miami arrived in Mobile today for the 2020 LendingTree Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The teams will meet on Monday, Jan. 6 at 6:30 p.m. (CT) and the game will be televised by ESPN. The LendingTree Bowl is the final bowl game of the 2019-20 bowl season leading up to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
Miami (8-5) won its 16th MAC Championship this season with a 26-21 win over Central Michigan in the MAC Championship Game on Dec. 7 at Ford Field in Detroit.
“We are excited to be here,” Miami head coach Chuck Martin said. “We knew you guys had the first pick and we were saying hopefully we can earn the right to be the first pick. We are excited to be the last bowl before the National Championship. We are excited to be the only college football game that night. We’ve played a lot of close games, so hopefully we will give you one more close game.”
The Redhawks opened the season with a 1-3 record, which included losses to No. 19 Iowa, No. 23 Cincinnati and No. 2 Ohio State. Miami defeated Buffalo in the MAC opener before dropping its next game to Central Michigan. Following the loss to CMU, Miami reeled off five straight wins and won the MAC Eastern Division title.
“I am really proud of our kids and really proud of our staff. I think they deserve to play in a great bowl game and I think we are looking to have a great bowl game here in Mobile. I think they have earned it. Of all the teams that won league titles this year – there are 10 or 11 leagues in FBS football – I don’t think anyone has had a harder road than our kids and our league is very balanced and competitive and this year was no different.”
Louisiana (10-3) won 10 regular-season games for the first time in school history under second-year head coach Billy Napier.
“On behalf of our staff and our team, we are appreciative of the opportunity to participate in the bowl, to be in Mobile and represent the Sun Belt Conference,” Napier said. “The LendingTree Bowl is a great opportunity for our team and an event that we are looking forward too.”
The Ragin’ Cajuns closed out the regular season with six straight wins to clinch the Sun Belt Conference Western Division. Louisiana averaged 39.5 points per game during the six-game winning streak. For the season, Louisiana led the Sun Belt Conference in total offense (501.3), rushing offense (265.3) and scoring (38.8).
“This is a group that has worked really, really hard and made tremendous improvement throughout the season, playing really, really good football when it mattered the most and got in position to win the Western Division,” Napier added. “We are humbled to be here and excited about the opportunity to compete against a really good football team. There is a level of competitiveness that comes out when you are playing against the champion of a league. Miami Ohio is certainly that.”
Miami is making its third all-time appearance at the LendingTree Bowl. The Redhawks are 2-0 all-time with win over Louisville (49-23) in 2003 and Middle Tennessee (35-21) in 2011.
Louisiana is making its first appearance in the LendingTree Bowl.