Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (Conference USA) vs Missouri Tigers (SEC)
Time and Date: 8 PM ET, Thursday, September 1
Broadcast Network: ESPNU
Location: Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field - Columbia, Missouri
Spread: Missouri -19*
Point Total: O/U 60.5*
ESPN FPI: Missouri 77.1%
All-Time Series: First ever meeting
*Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
It’s a whole new day for the Louisiana Tech program. After parting ways with Skip Holtz in the offseason, the Bulldogs brought in former Texas Tech and TCU offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie.
While it’s understandable that there would be a learning curve, it should be interesting to see what someone with Cumbie’s background and offensive philosophy can do with LA Tech’s quarterback room. For week one, Cumbie will start his former TCU pupil Matthew Downing at quarterback. Downing began his career back in 2018 at Georgia. Texas Tech transfer Parker McNeil could also see time this season.
The quarterback position is far from the only one that fans should keep an eye on. Redshirt senior Smoke Harris has been stellar the last several years in C-USA but has yet to put up a 1,000-yard season. He eclipsed 750 last season in his best individual year. Guard Joshua Mote is another offensive player with high expectations for the year after being a preseason All-Conference selection by Phill Steele.
This group won’t have an easy time, but they will have their opportunities against a Missouri defense that gave up 34.3 points per game as one of the worst defenses in the Power Five.
Since former App State coach Eliah Drinkwitz took the helm at Missouri in 2020, the Tigers have been taking baby steps in terms of improvement. They went 5-5 in the shortened COVID season and then 6-7 last season, which ended in a loss to Army in the Armed Forces Bowl.
This week’s starting quarterback in Brady Cook only has a bit of experience, but he did put up 238 passing yards, 53 rushing yards, and two touchdowns (one pass, one rush) as the starting QB in that Armed Forces Bowl loss. Because of Cook’s mobility, the LA Tech defense will need to keep one eye on him at all times in case he takes off. Despite the inexperience, Cook is an upgrade at the position for the Tigers from last season’s starter in Connor Bazelak.
The task of containing Cook and company will fall on LA Tech defenders like linebacker Tyler Grubbs and Keive Rose, both of whom were included on C-USA’s preseason watch list.
Frankly, nobody’s expecting the world of this Louisiana Tech team in their first game out. If they can keep this competitive, that should go a long way in building some confidence for the rest of the year. Missouri winning 35-24 is my prediction.