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Bulldogs Try to Finish Strong

Louisiana Tech and Old Dominion are both coming off of a bye week and the Bulldogs certainly needed the break after four straight conference games including two that were very hard hitting and competitive for 60 minutes.

Tyler Heinicke has his sights on an upset.
Tyler Heinicke has his sights on an upset.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Louisiana Tech is 6-0 in Conference USA and the Bulldogs are beating their opponents in CUSA by an average score of 36-24. Tech has blown out a couple of solid teams in Ruston, UTEP and WKU, but their last two road games were hard fought, one possession games late in the 3rd quarter. The Southern Miss game was still a 17-13 game with 9:31 left in the game.

Old Dominion just went through a five game losing streak, but they scored at least 28 points in all of the games except a 56-14 loss to Marshall. The Monarchs broke through in a big way in their last game as they beat FIU 38-35. FIU has one of the top defenses in Conference USA, ranking fourth in the league in scoring defense at 25.5 points per game. FIU has a 45-13 loss to Marshall, so their numbers are a little skewed (just like anyone else that has played Marshall.)

LA Tech Head Coach Skip Holtz is very aware of Old Dominion's ability to score. ""It starts with where they are on offense," he explained. "They are the fifth-ranked scoring offense in the league. They are putting up about 36 points a game. It all starts with their quarterback Taylor Heinicke. I think he may be one of the better quarterbacks that we have played against, if not the best."

The Bulldogs have a lot to play for. A win on Saturday (or a Rice loss on Friday) would clinch the west division for Tech. Holtz talked about what was weighing on the minds of the entire team. ""We had our big picture meeting on Sunday," he added. "We talked about everything that would play out. They know what is at stake, they know the elephant in the room. I told them what they need to focus on right now is not the end result. They need to focus on the process. That is the only way we are going to get the end result that we want."

Old Dominion (4-6, 2-4) has a lot to play for as well. A win would bring the Monarchs within a game of bowl eligibility. ODU finishes the season next week at FAU, a team that is already eliminated from postseason play. If Old Dominion can win out, they can get back to .500 overall and in conference play, something that most fans thought was impossible after the five game losing streak.

The Bulldogs have shown they can shut down a high powered offense and they have proven they can win on the road. Can they do both? Heinicke and the Monarchs offense presents a big challenge, but they do have holes. The Monarchs complete just 44% on third down and they are just a few seconds over 25 minutes in time of possession. If the Bulldogs can force a couple of turnovers, or get a couple of early three and out stops on defense; Louisiana Tech should be able to get a lead and force ODU into playing catch up ball.

If Old Dominion scores early, this game could turn into a shootout. Both teams have a lot to play for, so it should be a hard fought contest.