The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (8-1) are coming off a 51-27 victory over UTSA for homecoming. The Bulldogs are currently no. 20 in the BCS rankings, and have some work to do going forward. The non-BCS at large bid is still up for grabs; however, the Bulldogs still need help from outside teams. Nevertheless the Bulldogs are figuratively the last hope for a non-AQ team to bust the BCS, but must win their last three games to make this possible. Though their schedule may not feature a huge marquee game, it does have a match-up with conference contender Utah State (8-2) that looms large. Before Louisiana Tech can look ahead to the Aggies, they must prepare for conference foe Texas State (3-5).
Know Your Opponent
The Bobcats are new to the FBS ranks, and are trying to adjust to the competition level. Thus far the Bobcats have struggled defensively, and have given at least 500 yards of total offense in five of their eight games. The offense has had its moments also, registering 22 total touchdowns on the year.
The Bobcats are led by 25 year coaching veteran Dennis Franchione. Franchione used to coach the Bobcats in the early 90's under the school name of Southwest Texas State University. The former Texas A&M coach is known for turning around struggling programs, and looks to do the same in San Marcos, TX.
The offense is led by senior quarterback Shaun Rutherford. The former Blinn College star is a key weapon for the Bobcat offense. Rutherford has passed for 1220 yards, 9 touchdowns and five interceptions. He is also the teams leading rusher with 415 yards and 3 scores. The dual-threat star will have to cut down on his mistakes at home to help his team pull the upset in route to their second conference win.
The primary receiver for the Bobcats is former Rice University transfer Andy Erickson. The speedy receiver has 30 catches and 401 yards this season. He is joined by Texas native Tim Hawkins, who is a legitimate red zone threat at 6-foot-2. Although Rutherford is the team's leading rusher, former Navy transfer Marcus Curry is a tough runner between the tackles. Curry is second on the team with 379 yards and seven touchdowns.
Defensively, the Bobcats are in search of something to stop the bleeding but are very solid in the secondary. They can't seem to produce any pressure up front, and have only yielded six sacks as a team. Senior Jason Mclean leads the team with 56 tackles from his safety spot. Fellow senior Darryl Morris is the defensive leader in the secondary registering three interceptions. There may not be many bright spots on this defense, but one has to be the super sophomore Craig Mager. Mager is their best cover corner with three interceptions and six pass break-ups to lead the team. He will most likely be tested early and often by the Bulldogs' aerial attack.
Play to Win
The Bulldogs are once again favored to win by more than two touchdowns against their opponent. The offense should have no trouble against this Bobcat defense. Doak Walker watch list member Kenneth Dixon should face little resistance carving up the opposition. The passing prowess of the Bulldogs gets a lot of the attention; however, the rushing attack has quietly ranks 12th in the nation with 239 yard per game. Dixon has been very consistent all year, and looks to keep that trend going against the struggling Bobcat defense. Senior wide-out Quinton Patton figures to have a big game and strengthen his case for post season awards. Colby Cameron has been excellent all year as the Bulldogs signal caller. All signs point to Cameron having another solid day by hitting a host of Tech receivers down field.
Reason for Concern
Despite playing fairly weak opponents the past few games; the Bulldogs are still giving up way too many yards per game. The Bobcats run an option based attack sometimes featuring three receivers. This may cause problems for the Bulldog defense if they can't contain dual threat quarterback Rutherford. The defense will have to be very instinctive and not allow the Bobcats to get into rhythm on offense. The Bobcats have nothing to lose as they look obtain their first win over a ranked opponent. The Bulldogs look to improve from last week, but defensively must continue to progress. The reason for concern revolves around the Bulldogs predecessor whom it favors the most. The 2007 Hawaii Warrior team with Colt Brennan at the helm is a lot like the current Bulldogs squad minus a running game. The Warriors threw the ball around under June Jones and were very successful. However their Achilles heel was their defense and it showed up big time during the 2008 Sugar Bowl against the Georgia Bulldogs. The Bulldogs should not be content with just getting to the big stage, but more so along the lines of being the main attraction. The defense has played admirable in the face of injuries, but has to force more turnovers to complement the offensive production.
The Bulldogs will be on upset alert every week from here on out, but not because they are not favored. The college football season has taken down a multitude of teams with big dreams overlooking the underdog. If the Bulldogs want to avoid this fate, they must continue to execute with precision. On defense the linebackers must read their keys and play with containment to prevent the option big play. The offense should look to take the crowd out the game early by running stellar freshman back Dixon between the tackles. Tech should have no problem putting the Bobcats away by the 3rd quarter. Senior Chad Boyd will be a key component in run support to limit the Bobcats from busting a big play. Expect a game near but not over 50 points on the way to the ninth win of season.