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Louisiana Tech makes last ditch effort for bowl eligibility against UTSA

Can the Bulldogs help Conference USA put 10 teams in bowl games this fall?

NCAA Football: Louisiana Tech at Texas El Paso Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

Location: Joe Aillet Stadium, Ruston, LA

Kick Off: November 25th, 6:30 pm CT

TV: ESPNU

Stream: Watch ESPN

Live Stats: GameTracker

Audio: KXKZ 107.5 FM (Ruston), Ticket760 (SA)

Betting Odds: Louisiana Tech is favored by 1.5 points. Over/Under is 50.5 points.

Series History: Louisiana Tech leads the series 4-1 and won last year’s meeting 63-35.

Team Records: UTSA (6-4), LA Tech (5-6)


UTSA Outlook - Jared Kalmus

Thus concludes what has been a seriously rocky regular season for the UTSA Roadrunners. After watching their highly-anticipated home opener against Houston be washed away by Hurricane Harvey, the Roadrunners went on the road to grab their first ever win over a Power Five program after looking like world beaters against the depleted Baylor Bears.

UTSA would also turn in strong performances against Southern and Texas State before beginning conference play as the Roadrunners looked prime to take on Conference USA. Everything went south from there after the UNT Mean Green struck together an astonishing 98 yard game-winning drive to end UTSA’s championship hopes before they ever even really began. UNT would go on to win the division while UTSA never fully recovered.

While the Roadrunners were able to salvage their bowl eligibility with a sloppy 9-7 win over Marshall, UTSA’s offense has been in terrible shape for the majority of this fall. Starting quarterback Dalton Sturm has continued to be a saving grace as his heroics have kept UTSA afloat while the Roadrunners suffered through a devastating string of injuries.

Freshman All-American linebacker Josiah Tauaefa and veteran offensive lineman Juan Perez-Isidoro returned to the field for the Roadrunners last week and brought with them a huge boost to both position units. UTSA’s defense closed gaps much quicker with Tauaefa coming downhill and Perez-Isidoro had UTSA’s offensive line looking just as good as it did to start the season.

While last week’s upswing against Marshall lit a candle of hope, the fact still remains that the Roadrunners have averaged under 12 points in their last three games. UTSA has continuously stalled out in the red zone leading to low-scoring nailbiters. While the Roadrunners certainly have the defensive chops to contain J’Mar Smith and the Louisiana Tech offense, they’ll have to find a way to turn sustained offensive drives into touchdowns instead of field goals and turnovers.

NCAA Football: Texas-San Antonio at Florida International
UTSA wide receiver Brady Jones hauls in a touchdown against FIU.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Louisiana Tech Outlook - Tanner Spearman

It’s all or nothing time for the Bulldogs. Win, and you get to play one more game. Lose, and you don’t. Skip Holtz has brought La Tech a school record three straight years of bowl games. He wants to make it four, but UTSA stands in the way.

Although J’Mar Smith hasn’t lived up to the examples of the past few Tech quarterbacks, he may not need to. The Dawgs have gotten it going on the ground the past few games, highlighted by a 343 yard rushing performance last week against UTEP. With Tech finally having some stability in the offensive line, they should be in position to have another good performance, albeit probably not 300+ yards. Boston Scott and Jaqwis Dancy both had huge performances last week, even with Jarred Craft out. Craft may or may not play on Senior Day, but if last week is any indication, it may not matter.

The defense will have to face one of the better quarterbacks in C-USA, Dalton Sturm. He can be a determined runner, which can be an issue for Tech. They haven’t been great against a scrambling quarterback. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, they have been getting healthy. They will need to contain him and pressure him. If they can do that, Louisiana Tech is tied for 15th in the nation in interceptions. True freshman Amik Robertson leads the team with three, and four other Dawgs have two each. Dalton Sturm has been pretty good at protecting the ball so far with only three picks on the season, so Tech will have its work cut out for it.

Ultimately, in order for Louisiana Tech to make it four straight years playing in the postseason, they’ll need to win the turnover battle and FINISH DRIVES. Settling for field goals in the red zone has cost Tech games all season long. They MUST score touchdowns if they want to knock off the Roadrunners.


Predictions

Jared: Holding a 56-35 lead over UTSA last season, the Bulldogs opted to run the ball into the endzone with five seconds remaining on the clock to finish the game with a 63-35 final tally. Following the game a local reporter asked Head Coach Frank Wilson if he took offense to the Bulldogs declining a customary knee in victory formation to end the game. Wilson’s response? “We play them yearly.” Some members of the media scrum chuckled but Wilson maintained a stone-cold straight face.

This week a reporter asked Wilson about Louisiana Tech running up the score last year. Wilson’s response? “We remember.”

UTSA 17 La Tech 14

Tanner: La Tech hasn’t beaten a team that will be going to a bowl game since they knocked off WKU week 3. They haven’t won a home game since week 5. However, in their six losses, three have been by a single point. Another was in double overtime. They’ve been competitive and had a chance to win most of their games. At home on Senior Day with a bowl bid on the line, the Bulldogs may be able to dig deep and get one more win.

La Tech 27, UTSA 24