In Part II of this two-part preview of the 2019 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, take a closer look at the schedule Tech will play. What is a realistic expectation for the season?
If you missed Part I, click here.
@ Texas Longhorns, 8/31
If there was any thought that Texas would get caught looking ahead to LSU in week two, that probably went out the door after Terry Bradshaw’s comments went viral in June. Whether you believe he meant to take shots at Sam Ehlinger or not, the Horns took it that way. They will likely be looking to send a message.
UT’s track record in openers hasn’t been great recently, and just last year they only managed to beat a 3-9 Tulsa team by seven in week two. But on paper, this shouldn’t be too close. Tech does has a history of keeping it close with power five teams though, so perhaps the Dawgs can cover the 21-point spread, after all. Actually winning, however, is not looking likely.
Grambling State Tigers, 9/7
It’s mind-boggling that Lincoln Parish’s two football programs have only played once before, but it’s true. Finally, for the first time ever, the G-Men will be playing in Joe Aillet Stadium. The actual game itself probably won’t be too competitive as Tech’s two recent games against Southern have shown. Despite that, this has an opportunity to be one of the largest crowds in the Joe’s history, provided the early-September afternoon heat doesn’t scare people away. This will also be the first college football game to be broadcast on NFL Network, so be prepared for a lot of conversation about the two schools’ combined seven hall of famers.
@ Bowling Green Falcons, 9/14
The Falcons and Bulldogs have played just twice before when Tech swept a home-and-home series in the mid-90’s. This will also be the first time Tech has played a MAC team since defeating Northern Illinois in the 2008 Independence Bowl. Since winning two MAC titles in three years in 2013 and 2015, the Falcons haven’t posted a winning record. Mike Jinks is gone now, however, and Scot Loeffler will be making his head coaching debut in 2019. Tech should expect to win this game, even if it’s close. A loss here would be concerning for the rest of the season, and would be Tech’s first loss to a non-conference G5 team since losing to Army in 2013.
FIU Panthers, 9/21
Tech will open conference play at home against the Panthers. Tech is 3-0 all-time against FIU, but this will be the best Panthers team the Bulldogs have faced to date. Beating a team that is expected to compete for the east title will be tough, but if Tech does pull the mild upset, it could be a sign of good things to come.
@ Rice Owls, 9/28
In Tech’s first year in C-USA, the Owls dominated Tech en route to a conference title. However, this matchup has mostly been pretty ugly for Rice since then. Tech only managed to squeak past Rice last year, but there’s little expectation for the Owls in 2019. Tech should win, and anything short of a blowout will be concerning.
UMass Minutemen, 10/12
It’s unusual for Tech to play two non-conference G5 teams in one year, but that’s the schedule for 2019. After dominating UMass in Foxborough in 2016, the Minutemen finally make their delayed return trip to Ruston. UMass is probably a little better than Rice, but Tech still needs to win this game by a sizable margin.
Southern Miss Golden Eagles, 10/19
Tech desperately needs to break the losing streak to their biggest conference rival. The chances of that happening, however, look slim. With that said, Tech has blown it several times as the favorite over the Golden Eagles. If you’re superstitious, maybe you can hope for USM to return the favor. Like the GSU game, this one will be on NFL Network, so get ready for every imaginable comparison between Terry Bradshaw and Brett Favre.
@ UTEP Miners, 10/26
UTEP is the only team in the west division to whom Tech hasn’t lost since joining C-USA. Despite the problems that come with having to travel to El Paso, Tech should expect to keep that streak going. Tech barely got past the Miners in Ruston last year, however, so don’t expect them to just roll over. The Miners could definitely put up a fight.
North Texas Mean Green, 11/9
UNT is the only Texas-based C-USA team to beat Tech post-2013. The Mean Green are also one of the favorites in the west in 2019. Although this game is in Ruston, both of Tech’s losses to UNT since joining C-USA have been at home. The last two meetings have been decided by a combined three points, so it’s fair to say this could be another exciting finish. However, it took a borderline miracle for Tech to win last season. It might take another in 2019.
@ Marshall Thundering Herd, 11/15
Outside of traveling to Huntington for the 2014 C-USA Championship Game, this will be the first regular season meeting between the Herd and Bulldogs since becoming conference mates. Tech got a rough draw this season, having to play the two favorites from the east. Beating FIU at home would be one thing, but winning in Joan C. Edwards would be a decent upset. Having to play this game sandwiched between UNT and UAB makes it even tougher for Tech. November will be a defining month for the 2019 season without a doubt, and the chances are good it won’t turn out great.
@ UAB Blazers, 11/23
The death march that is the first three weeks of November will culminate in a trip to Birmingham. UAB loses quite a bit of production, but the Blazers are still the reigning champs. After posting a 5-0 all-time record against UAB before the shutdown, Tech is 0-2 against the Blazers since they reinstated football. Unless Tech can stop Spencer Brown, it may become 0-3.
UTSA Roadrunners, 11/30
Tech’s reward for this three-game stretch will be to finish the season at home against UTSA. Since making their first bowl appearance in 2016, the Roadrunners have spiraled downhill, finishing just 3-9 in 2018. This would appear to be a relatively easy game for Tech, but UTSA brings back most of its starters. If Tech comes into this game thinking the tough opponents are past, it could end badly.
Outside of Texas, this is one of the easier non-conference schedules in recent Tech history. Anything short of 3-1 would be disappointing. The conference schedule, however, is brutal. Tech has to play the east’s two best teams, and has to play North Texas, Marshall and UAB all in a row, with the latter two being on the road.
Wins over Grambling, Bowling Green, UMass, UTEP, Rice and UTSA would more than likely see Tech make a seventh-straight bowl game. It’s also not out of the question Tech could grab another couple of wins to give itself some breathing room. But based on the roster Tech is fielding, combined with a tough cross-division draw, competing for the west title seems unlikely. It would be surprising for Tech to beat both FIU and Marshall, so even if Tech could grab wins against the likes of North Texas or Southern Miss, the final conference record may not be enough.
Somewhere between five and eight wins seems about right. Even if Tech only wins six or seven games, another bowl game would provide the opportunity to match the last two seasons.
So, in conclusion, expect a season similar to the past two. Even if this Tech team is better than those teams, the schedule may cause the record not to reflect that.