Independence Bowl pits Houston’s Tune vs. ball-hawking ULL

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Houston quarterback Clayton Tune (3) passes the ball during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Tulsa on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Houston. (Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Houston quarterback Clayton Tune closes out a prolific season in the Independence Bowl against a Louisiana-Lafayette defense that has combined for 15 interceptions this season.

Tune is among the national leaders in touchdowns passing with 37. Houston comes in having won five of its previous seven games. Louisiana-Lafayette had to win its final regular season game to become eligible for its fifth straight bowl game and now seeks a fourth straight bowl victory.

Independence Bowl Houston ULL

This marks the 10th all-time meeting between Houston and Louisiana-Lafayette. The Cougars lead the series 6-3.

Independence Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette (6-6) vs. Houston (7-5), Dec. 23, 3 p.m. EST (ESPN)

FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK COLLEGE LINE: Houston by 7 1/2.

Series record: Houston leads 6-3.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Louisiana-Lafayette seeks a fourth straight bowl victory and aims to secure a winning record in its first season since Michael Desormeaux took over as head coach following Billy Napier’s departure for Florida. The Ragin’ Cajuns are seeking their seventh bowl victory overall. Houston is seeking its second straight bowl victory and 13th overall.

KEY MATCHUP

Houston’s passing game against Louisiana-Lafayette’s secondary. Cougars QB Clayton Tune’s 37 TD passes this season places him in contention for the national lead. The Ragin’ Cajuns have intercepted 15 passes this season, led by defensive back Bralen Trahan with four. Trahan has 13 interceptions in his career.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Louisiana-Lafayette: DL Zi’Yon Hill-Green has 21 career sacks and needs one more to break the school record.

Houston: WR Nathaniel Dell has 1,354 yards and 15 TDs receiving, which placed in first in the nation in those categories for the regular season.

FACTS & FIGURES

Louisiana-Lafayette returner Eric Garror is one of five FBS players with two punt returns for touchdowns this season. His three career returns for touchdowns is tied for the school record. … The Ragin’ Cajuns are playing in a fifth straight bowl game and 10th overall. … ULL won the last meeting, 31-28, on Oct. 7, 2006, when head coach Michael Desormeaux played QB and defensive coordinator LaMar Morgan played safety for the Ragin’ Cajuns. … Louisiana-Lafayette’s defense has forced 23 total turnovers this season. … Houston is 5-2 in its previous seven games. … The Independence Bowl is Houston’s last game as a member of the American Athletic Conference before its move to the Big 12 for the 2023 season. … WR Matthew Golden’s seven TD catches this season set a Cougars’ true freshman record. He is also the only freshman nationally to have four TD catches of 20-plus yards. … Six of Houston’s 12 games have come down to the final drive, with a school-record three games ending in overtime.