Arkansas State vs. Louisiana Tech is the most-likely pairing for the 15th R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.
The Dec. 19 game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome pits teams from the Sun Belt Conference and Conference USA.
It would be the first New Orleans Bowl appearance for Louisiana Tech while Arkansas State played Southern Mississippi in the 2005 game, which was moved to Louisiana-Lafayette when Hurricane Katrina rendered the Superdome unplayable.
The bowl has the first choice of teams from the Sun Belt and Arkansas State (8-3), which has clinched the league championship going into its regular-season finale at home against Texas State would be the most logical choice.
“The record of the participating team, its standing in the conference and its proximity to New Orleans are always important to us,” New Orleans Bowl President Billy Ferrante said Tuesday. “The size and passion of their fan base matters too.”
Arkansas State has played in the GoDaddy.com bowl for the past four years.
UL-Lafayette has been the Sun Belt team in the New Orleans Bowl for the past four years, but the Ragin’ Cajuns are 5-7 and are not bowl eligible.
The C-USA team is determined by its league office in consultation with the schools. Louisiana Tech (8-4) was in the running of the West Division title until losing to Southern Miss 58-24 on Sunday.
Southern Miss plays Western Kentucky for the league title Saturday, after which its bowl destinations will be determined. Then, the rest of the league’s bowl-eligible teams, including Tech, will be placed.
“Louisiana Tech is a strong option for us,” Ferrante said. “We’ve had our eyes on them all season.
“But we have to wait until the other teams give more clarity as to where they want to go.”
Louisiana Tech played in the Heart of Dallas Bowl last year.
The Heart of Dallas Bowl and one of C-USA’s Florida bowl tie-ins are the other top options for USM and WKU.
The official announcement will be made Sunday.