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Louisiana Tech vs. Charlotte: Outlook & Three Keys

Holtz’ Bulldogs look to protect home field and preserve what remains of their season while Charlotte fights for bowl eligibility and a chance to play postseason football.

NCAA Football: Louisiana Tech at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Rundown

  • Date/Time: Saturday, November 13th (2:30 PM CT/3:30 PM ET)
  • Location: Joe Aillet Stadium, Ruston, LA
  • Vegas Odds: Louisiana Tech -6.5 via BetMGM
  • TV: Stadium (Chris Hassel, Sed Bonner)

Louisiana Tech Outlook

Having previously been a perfect 4-0 against UAB dating back to their days as an independent under Gary Crowton and Jack Bicknell Jr., the boys from Lincoln Parish succumbed to an offensive onslaught in Birmingham last weekend. The Bulldogs surrendered 477 total yards and 52 points to drop to 2-4 against the Blazers since Skip Holtz took the reigns of the program back in December 2012.

Returning home to the Bayou State after a rough couple of weeks on the road, the 2-7 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs shift their focus to making the most of what time they have left together as their five-game skid leaves them ineligible for postseason play for the first time since 2013.

NCAA Football: Louisiana Tech at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

“We’ve got three games left on our schedule. We have the opportunity to play two of them at home in front of our family, our friends, our alumni, our fan base here at home. We’re going to do everything we can to send these 18 seniors out a winner and find a way to see if we can get on a win streak going down the stretch with three games remaining,” said Holtz.

Three Keys

  • Execute the fundamentals: The final score last week isn’t a well enough indicator of the early control the Bulldogs gained before UAB just absolutely blew the doors off from late in the first half and beyond. The 21-7 lead for Louisiana Tech evaporated into thin air behind UAB’s conversion on a fake punt that killed momentum and ignited a run of 24 unanswered points. 21 missed tackles as a team through four quarters only aided the fallout with UAB having 8.5 yards per play to show for it.
  • Exploit Charlotte’s past trauma: This is specifically in reference to Appalachian State transfer Marcus Williams Jr.’s field day of a game against the Niners last fall, one where he rattled off 117 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Squaring off against a less than stellar defense, there’s no outlying reason to believe lightning can’t strike twice for the Rocky Mount, NC native.
  • Protect home field: Facing the tall task of claiming a bowl-clinching win away from home, Charlotte enters the fold 2-6 in their past 8 road games, also dropping three of their four in 2021 alone. The Bulldogs haven’t dropped two straight in Joe Aillet Stadium since November 2017, and certainly wouldn’t want to stray from that trend heading into this weekend.

Charlotte Outlook

The conundrum that is the Conference USA’s East division in 2021 still presents a living scenario where the Charlotte 49ers play for their first-ever conference championship. However, the transitive path that would need to be forged to make such an outcome possible is one that would almost require an Angels in the Endzone-esque level of divine intervention to see it through.

Boasting a 5-0 record against West division foes during the Will Healy era, the green and gold are afforded the opportunity this Saturday to claim their sixth in back-to-back fashion, rolling into Ruston following a 31-24 homecoming victory over Rice with a miraculous late-game comeback in overtime.

NCAA Football: Duke at Charlotte Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

“You’re getting to Week 10, and the monotony of going through practice and doing the same thing you’ve done for the last 16 weeks,” said Healy. “How committed are we to getting better at the little things so that they pay off whenever it matters? That’s the challenge that I have for our football team, my staff, and myself.”

Three Keys

  • Unleash the aerial attack: Allowing 267.8 yards through the air on average per game entering Saturday’s match-up, Louisiana Tech’s passing defense sits down at 111th in the FBS nationally and 13th in the league just ahead of lowly FIU. Receivers Grant DuBose and Victor Tucker form a formidable duo, totaling 1,173 receiving yards and seven touchdowns between the pair.
  • Bend but don’t break: No stranger to late-game heroics or the presence of being the underdog, Burlsworth Trophy semi-finalist Chris Reynolds has orchestrated five game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in his career to date, having done so three times in the final minute alone. Entering Louisiana Tech as a 6.5-point underdog, Charlotte’s own Captain Comeback is more than capable of keeping his squad composed if this one comes down to the wire.
  • Act like you’ve been here before: Closing in on what would be just their second bowl appearance in their program’s short-lived history, Charlotte’s best-ever start through nine games affords them the opportunity to clinch a postseason berth with two weeks to spare. Pairing together with a Power Five win over Duke would certainly label 2021 as the 49ers’ best complete season to date. Albeit unfamiliar territory, Healy knows his group possesses the mental fortitude to cap off their regular season the right way.