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Miami vs. Louisiana Tech: Independence Bowl preview and picks against the spread

Miami (6-6) vs. Louisiana Tech (9-3)

Location: Shreveport, Louisiana | When: Dec. 26 (4 p.m. ET) | TV: ESPN | Line: Miami -5.5

HOW THESE TEAMS GOT HERE

Miami: The Hurricanes had an eight-game stretch in 2019 where they went 6-2. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they both started and ended the season with two losses. 

Miami lost to Florida and North Carolina to kick off the season and then got wins over Virginia, Pitt and Florida State in that nice midseason stretch. A loss to Florida International in the penultimate week of the season then led to a loss to Duke to end the season.

Miami LB Shaq Quarterman has spent a lot of time with the team's turnover chains. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Louisiana Tech: The Bulldogs lost 45-14 to Texas to start the season and then reeled off eight straight wins. That streak included a win over the same FIU team that beat Miami at the end of the season. 

The win streak was broken with a 31-10 loss to Marshall on Nov. 15 and that was followed by a 20-14 loss at UAB. Louisiana Tech then ended the season with a 14-point win over Texas-San Antonio.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH

Are you planning to go to work on the day after Christmas? No? You have no better plans than to watch some football in Shreveport.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Miami RB Cam’ron Harris: With DeeJay Dallas set to miss the game because of an elbow injury, Harris will be Miami’s lead running back. He’s been really good at the end of the season too despite an injury against Duke. Harris has 102 carries for 545 yards and five touchdowns and has averaged over five yards a carry in each of Miami’s last three games. He should see a lot of action.

Justin Henderson hurdles a Southern Miss defender earlier this season. Henderson could top 1,000 rushing yards on the season Thursday. (Photo by Bobby McDuffie/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Louisiana Tech RB Justin Henderson: The junior has recorded at least 11 carries in each of the Bulldogs’ last nine games. He’s the team’s leading rusher and will likely crack the 1,000-yard mark on Thursday as he enters with 967 yards and 15 touchdowns. 

NFL DRAFT PROSPECT

Miami LB Shaq Quarterman: If you’re getting a head start on the 2021 (or 2022) draft, check out Miami EDGE Gregory Rousseau, who could be truly special. But if you’re dialed in on 2020 like we are, look right behind him and focus on Quarterman, who has been the heart and soul of the Hurricanes the past four years and will be finishing his career with his 52nd game for Miami. He was the first freshman middle linebacker to start for the Canes since Dan Morgan in 1998 and even showed his school pride — back in high school — when Quarterman wore a Miami t-shirt to Florida’s “Friday Night Lights” recruiting event. He’s an active, instinctive, run-stopping force who projects to about a fourth-round pick but could start for some NFL teams in base defenses.

— Eric Edholm

WHAT’S ON THE LINE

Miami: A win would be Miami’s first in a bowl game since 2016. That was Mark Richt’s first season and was in the now-renamed Russell Athletic Bowl. 

Louisiana Tech: While Miami is on a losing streak, Louisiana Tech is on a win streak. Skip Holtz is 5-0 in bowl games with the Bulldogs and the last bowl loss for Louisiana Tech came in the 2011 Poinsettia Bowl when the team was part of the now-defunct WAC.

PICKS

Nick Bromberg: LT +5.5

Sam Cooper: LT +5.5

Picks from the Yahoo Sports College Podcast

Pat Forde:  LT +6

Pete Thamel: LT +6

Dan Wetzel: LT +6

Sean Sullivan: LT +6

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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