USA AMERICAN FOOTBALL NFL

UL quarterback Levi Lewis passes the ball during his MVP performance in the win over Miami in Monday's LendingTree Bowl at Ladd Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala.

1. Levi Lewis steals show

At times during the season, junior quarterback Levi Lewis had his ups and downs, and perhaps even a few critics. But there was no arguing with anything Lewis did in Monday's 27-17 bowl win over Miami. Lewis was literally the difference between winning and losing the game. If Lewis had a mediocre effort, UL would very likely have been staring at another 0-2 postseason. He threw for 246 yards and two touchdowns when the running game was struggling and he also ran for 62 yards.

2. Wide receiving depth

One of the biggest early season questions about the Cajuns was, if a good defense limits the running game, would the passing game be good enough to carry the load? Lewis proved he was capable and in Monday's bowl win, so did the receivers. No one should ever be surprised by anything Ja'Marcus Bradley does, but Jalen Williams had three catches, Calif Gossett had two for 79 yards, Jamal Bell even contributed with two, including one huge one on third down for 27 yards. It wasn't always pretty there this season but that position played a huge role in nailing down that 11th win.

3. Big-play defense just enough

It still wasn't the dominant unit it had become over the first eight games of the season, giving up 22 first downs and 248 yards passing. UL's defense delivered in several big ways Monday, though, forcing a key fumble late and coming up with three well-timed quarterback sacks to halt drives. Overall, there were six tackles behind the line. It produced the game's first three-and-out when both offenses were rolling, allowing UL to seize a lead it never relinquished.

Email Kevin Foote at kfoote@theadvocate.com.