On December 15, the Tulane Green Wave and the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns will clash in the fourth edition of the AutoNation Cure Bowl; quite an accomplishment for two teams that came out of the gates tumbling. However, while both clubs took similar paths to reach this point, we aren’t focusing so much on their journeys here but more so the young tradition they will be taking part in when they hit the gridiron in Florida.
We want to shed light on what this game actually means and why it was set up. In 2015 the AutoNation Cure Bowl was installed as yet another addition to the already numerous slew of bowl games that occur this time of year. Heck, it’s not even the only one that takes place in Orlando. This game, however, is a bit different than all the others.
Originally founded back in 2008, the Cure Bowl was created to raise awareness and promote aide for breast cancer research. As per its vision, the game donates its proceeds to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, but the idea of a bowl game donating is not all that uncommon.
These games have been known to give a portion of their proceeds to charities. The Cure Bowl, though, is not the same and hasn’t been from the start. With this one, fans who purchase tickets know exactly which charity their money is going toward; not always the case with some others. This is thanks in large part to a woman by the name of Laura Goldstein. Goldstein was an initial champion and supporter of the game in its early stages over a decade ago. After she herself was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, the game’s Board of Directors selected breast cancer research to be the primary charitable cause the game would be centered around. You can read more about Goldstein’s story here.
It should come to little shock that the theme of the Cure Bowl is pink, pink and more pink. The game’s official crest is set in the color as will be nearly all the advertisements throughout the stadium. Midfield is adorned with the Cure Bowl emblem as are both Tulane and Louisiana’s uniforms which will each feature a patch commemorating the game. On television, CBS Sports does a great job of incorporating pink into their graphics and logos. Dedication to the cause is evident.
Let’s get to the nuts and bolts of the game now. Both the American Athletic Conference and the Sun Belt have tie-ins to the contest meaning that it should feature participants from these two leagues. Years past have shown us, though, that this doesn’t always work out. In its inaugural season, the Cure Bowl paired a Mountain West team (San Jose State) with the Sun Belt’s Georgia State Panthers due to the fact that American was unable to provide a bowl-eligible team for its slot. C-USA’s Western Kentucky Hilltoppers also made an appearance last season for the same reason.
This year, however, the two positions have been filled as intended. The Green Wave and the Cajuns will be the latest programs to etch their names in the event’s very fresh history books and, because it’s a mere four years old, there are records aplenty that will be up for grabs Saturday. Here’s a few of the game’s milestones we think might change hands this weekend:
Most Points Scored (One Team): 31 - Arkansas State (2016)
It’s no secret that both Tulane and Louisiana rode their dynamic offenses to this game. Willie Fritz’s option attack will go up against Billy Napier’s pass-happy approach in what certainly could be a fireworks show. Andre Nunez can sling it for the Cajuns and the Wave has a committee of rushers that are capable of big time numbers. Don’t be shocked if the Red Wolves’ game-high mark of 31 points falls to either (or maybe both) of these clubs.
Most Points Scored (Both Teams): 44 – Occurred Twice (2016, 2017)
Most Sacks (Individual): 2 – Occurred Twice (2016, 2017)
There’s several guys that may best the two-sack record the game currently has but we’ve got our eyes on Tulane’s Patrick Johnson. Johnson has been a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks all season and he leads the Wave with 9.5 sacks. If Nunez is under duress, the Green Wave sophomore will most likely be a reason why.
Most Rush Yards (Individual): 132 – Tyler Ervin, San Jose State (2015)
Louisiana’s Trey Ragas has seven 100-yard games under his belt this season and could easily have an eighth against a Wave defense that is surrendering 153.9 rush yards per contest. Ragas seems to be the most likely man to eclipse the 132-yard mark set by the Tyler Ervin in the first Cure Bowl. Tulane, however, also has a couple of guys who could also do it.
First AAC Win
Obviously only Tulane can claim this accolade but it would be noteworthy nonetheless. When UCF participated in the game back in 2016, Arkansas State handedly dispatched them 31-13. Seeing as the American was unable to provide a team in both other contests, Tulane now has the opportunity to be the first AAC club to walk away with a victory.
First RB to Win MVP
So far we’ve witnessed two quarterbacks (Kenny Potter of San Jose State and Conner Manning of Georgia State) and a receiver (Kendall Sanders of Arkansas State) take home the game’s MVP honors. This year’s contest will feature many backs, though, that could easily nab the award; Corey Dauphine, Darius Bradwell and Ragas to name a few.
There’s even been a landmark reached before either team takes a snap…
First Game Featuring In-State Opponents: Tulane v. Louisiana (2018)
This season’s Cure Bowl will of course elicit much attention from fans in the Bayou State. The schools are a mere 130 miles apart and have actually met up once before in a bowl setting. Both Tulane and Louisiana want to be the next team in what will hopefully be a long line to etch their names in the winner’s column but whatever goes down on Saturday should be exciting for everyone watching. Fans all around the state should enjoy this one.
Fast facts about the Cure Bowl:
· UCF’s 13-31 loss to the Red Wolves in the 2016 contest was the last defeat the Knights suffered before going on their current 25-game win streak.
· Although the game is played in Orlando, it is not played on UCF’s campus but instead in Camping World Stadium where the Camping World Bowl and the Citrus Bowl also take place.
· The game has always been aired on CBS Sports Network and will be again this year.
· The game is played on the third Saturday every December and this year’s game will be the earliest in the month it’s ever been played.