Date: Saturday, November 24, 2018
Kickoff Time: 11 p.m. CT
Location: Ruston, Louisiana
Stadium: Joe Aillet Stadium
TV: CBS Sports Network
Series Record: La Tech leads 5-3
Last Meeting: La Tech won 23-22 in 2017
Betting Line: La Tech -10.5
The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs and Western Kentucky Hilltoppers have played some classics the past few years, and they will meet yet again to close the regular season.
The stakes aren’t the same as in years past. While prior games have had conference title implications, neither team is in that position in 2018. WKU is having by far their worst year of the C-USA era.
Western Kentucky has never won in Ruston, but if they can find a way in 2018, it would be a bright spot in an otherwise dark season. Louisiana Tech is a bit disappointed to fall short of a 10-win season or a title game berth, but a nine-win season is still possible if they handle business on senior day.
Louisiana Tech Overview
The Bulldogs are coming off yet another disappointing loss to rival Southern Miss, but they have an opportunity to bounce back. WKU has struggled all season, and has only scored 20+ four times. The Tech defense will have a chance to control this game.
Jaylon Ferguson has matched his sophomore season with 14.5 sacks in 2018. That brings him to 42 for his career. Terrell Suggs’ NCAA record is 44, so Ferguson has a chance to tie or break that record with a good day against the Tops.
Tech only amassed 68 rushing yards against Southern Miss, and Jaqwis Dancy only touched the ball five times. That isn’t a recipe for success. Dancy needs more than 18 yards if Tech wants to win football games.
Adrian Hardy has really made a name for himself lately, however. He has 270 receiving yards from the past two games alone.
Tech just needs to be balanced. J’Mar Smith won’t win games with just his arm. Give him his throws, let him use his legs and run the ball. If all three parts of the offense are working, Tech can finish the season strong.
Western Kentucky Overview
The Hilltoppers are having their worst season since 2010 and will miss a bowl for the first time since 2013. This will be their final game of the year, and they want to go out the right way.
WKU is coming off their second win of the year after a surprising thumping of UTEP. Steven Duncan threw two touchdown passes and D’Andre Ferby scored a pair on the ground. They, along with someone like Joshua Samuel, need to have big games if WKU wants to pull the upset.
The big story of their win over UTEP, however, was the Hilltopper defense intercepting five passes. Each pick was by a different defensive player. Western needs to win the turnover battle in that manner if they want to win this game.
WKU has been close to a few more wins than they have had. The Hilltoppers have had four three point losses this season, with no ending wilder than the Old Dominion loss. They also had a shot against Marshall, Maine, and even Louisville. They just haven’t been able to finish the job.
If Western wants to end the season on a bright note, they’ll need to play their best game of the year. Offense needs to score and defense needs to hold. Tech probably won’t score a ton, but can WKU score more?
Last season, Louisiana Tech won in Bowling Green for the first time. Western Kentucky has yet to win in Ruston, and the odds aren’t in their favor this time around.
Their last trip to Ruston was one of the greatest games of this era in C-USA. The 55-52 barnburner was a preview of the 2016 C-USA championship game and showcased the explosive offenses both teams had.
This game isn’t going to match that, not by a long shot. There’s not a lot at stake for either team besides pride. The Bulldogs want to bounce back, and the Tops want to finish on a win streak. In 2016, there was a rumor that the winning coach in the title game would get hired away, and it came to pass as Jeff Brohm was hired by Purdue.
This time around, this could again be the last game coached at WKU by their head man, but for a very different reason with hot seat rumors circling Mike Sanford Jr.