Date: Saturday, October 1, 2016
Kickoff Time: 6:00 PM CDT
Location: Ruston, LA
Stadium: Joe Aillet Stadium
TV: American Sports Network
Series Record: La Tech leads 9-2 (1 tie)
Last Meeting: 2015, La Tech 17-15
Betting Line: La Tech -19.5
It’s week 5, and Louisiana Tech is finally (knock on wood, fingers crossed, frantically check the weather forecast) going to get a true home game. They’ve had one so far, but the weather delayed it 4 hours. Some loyal fans stuck around, but the stadium was mostly empty for a game that we didn’t know was even going to happen until 9:30 PM that then ended at 1 AM. Tomorrow night, the Bulldogs will finally get the full home game experience.
And what an experience it will be. After being Texas Tech’s white out and MTSU’s black out, Tech finally gets its own specialty game, as this will be the second time the Joe will host a red out against UTEP. It’s also military appreciation day, which means a B-1 supersonic bomber will fly over the stadium. Fireworks that they couldn’t shoot off last game will finally get used. Fans that couldn’t stick around for the SC State game will finally get to experience the 2016 Bulldogs in person. It looks to be a great fan experience.
The game itself, on the other hand....
UTEP’s best hope will be the run game offensively. Aaron Jones is a stud. The interesting thing here is that, when rounded to the nearest whole number, UTEP’s average rushing yards matches the average allowed by Tech: 164.
But in pretty much all other phases of the game, Tech has the clear advantage. UTEP’s defense allows over 200 rushing yards AND over 200 passing yards a game. Tech’s rushing game is decent, but the passing game is off the charts. Ryan Higgins to Trent Taylor will again be a dominant duo, and never forget Carlos Henderson going deep. His health has been a hindrance, though. Although I still disagree with the play calling on the final drive against MTSU, had either Taylor or Henderson been healthy for that final push the Bulldogs would be 2-2 right now.
The biggest problem that Louisiana Tech has is defense. For the first half of the MTSU game, it looked like that problem had been solved. But in the second half, the defense forgot it still had a game to play. If Louisiana Tech can play like they did in the first half last week, they’ll run UTEP out of Louisiana. But if they play like they did in the second half, they could be in for a scare.
As for UTEP, they’re desperate right now. They started 1-0 after beating rival NMSU, but they’ve been blown out in every game since. Granted, they played Texas, Southern Miss, and an Army team that may be better than we expected. But C-USA is a two-tiered league. La Tech is in the higher tier of the division along with Southern Miss. If UTEP can’t compete with USM at home, what hope do they have going on the road against Tech?
UTEP will come in looking for a fight, but they’ll go home empty-handed once again. La Tech’s defensive struggles could keep it a little closer than the Bulldogs would like, but the Dawgs will trample the UTEP defense to keep the game out of reach.
La Tech 45, UTEP 17