Listening to and reading the quotes of the week, Western Kentucky isn't looking for "revenge," so much as they're looking to play a good game against a good football team. Louisiana Tech, meanwhile, is coming off an offensive showout against Southern, where the Bulldogs dropped 52 points in the first half, Jeff Driskel threw for 247 yards on 12-of-15 passing and Kenneth Dixon rushed for 106 yards on only nine touches.
Call it a revenge game. Call it a possible Conference USA Championship matchup. Call it the best QB battle the conference has seen since last November in Huntington. But there's only one thing we can call it with 100% certainty - it's the first game of college football's week two, and it's going to be awesome.
Start Time: 7:00 p.m. CT
Location: LT Smith Stadium, Bowling Green, Ky.
TV: Fox Sports 1
Stream: Fox Sports Go
Betting Line: Even. Over/under - 61.5
That is just fine with Skip Holtz. "We are kind of in an uphill battle," explained Holtz. "We are going against a team that has been picked to win the east. Most people pick them to win this game. Most people pick them to win the conference. We realize going there we are an underdog in this situation and we are looking forward to the challenge."
Maybe it's impossible to believe that Skip Holtz and Jeff Driskel can have success with the Bulldogs after their struggles in the state of Florida. Maybe it's too easy to pin last years success on Manny Diaz, who is now the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State. Whatever the reason for Louisiana Tech's lack of recognition as a real force - Holtz will take it. There's no team more dangerous in Conference USA than these Bulldogs, especially if they feel they still have something to prove.
The Bulldogs rolled over Western Kentucky, ULL, UTEP, and Rice last season, and all of those teams went bowling. Tech jumped out to leads over Northwestern State and Old Dominion before falling apart in the second half. Maybe those losses make it too hard to buy in to the Bulldogs.
LA Tech didn't win those games last year with some elaborate offense scheme. Most of their success had to do with having some of the best players on the field. Dixon, Henderson, Turner, Taylor, Butler, Dora, Barnes, Woods, and Brice - all names that are back this season.
Tech's game plan is simple. Get the ball in Dixon's hands, spread the defense out with Turner and Henderson, and on defense: get after the quarterback.
The Red Towel Wavers: Well, that was some game in Nashville, eh? All of that preseason hype, all of that excitement about a sixth year of Brandon Doughty, all of that talk about beating an SEC team.
It resulted in a two-point victory - 14-12 - and an offense that never got into a rhythm. Vanderbilt's defense had the perfect scheme to make Doughty uncomfortable and to rush some decisions, leading to *just* 209 yards on 19-of-30 passing. Leon Allen had a difficult night as well, but D'Andre Ferby proved to be an exciting change of pace (even though he only was called upon twice).
Nick Holt, T.J. McCollum and Jontavious Morris anchored a much improved defense, and honestly, watching that defense was more exciting than it would have been to hang 30 on Vandy. The danger for the Tops is that while Vandy devised a very useful defensive game plan using tape form 2014, Tech's coaching staff has 2015 tape, meaning the Dogs' defense could be even more stout and prove to be even more difficult. Allen is going to have to muster more than half a hundred yards for WKU to have success, and the drops...yeah, the drops can't happen. At. All.
Jason - Last season, Louisiana Tech was able to beat WKU 59-10 using the same game plan that they used most of the season. They got after the quarterback, making the Tops one dimensional. Vanderbilt did the same thing to them last week and held them to 14 points.
Bulldogs Defensive Coordinator Blake Baker said that their goal each week is to "cut the head off of the snake." If Tech can take away the running game and force the quarterback into quick decisions; good things usually happen.
The game plan will be the same this week. To be sure, the Tech staff will mix things up, but the goal is still the same.
Thursday night will come down to Tech being able to get Doughty off track or WKU being able to spread the Bulldogs out and get their high powered offense clicking.
Western Kentucky didn't get off to a hot start against Vanderbilt and they didn't show any reason that they will suddenly explode against Tech.
This is Louisiana Tech's chance to make a statement. The starters played just a quarter and a half on Saturday and they are hungry. Holtz has them believing they are underdogs, just as they were heading into Lafayette, LA last season.
It won't get out of hand like last year, but Louisiana Tech wins it 34-24.
Fletcher - Western Kentucky struggled last week because, as the SEC Network TV crew put it, they felt the pressure of being favored against a big-time team like Vanderbilt. They came to Nashville, they conquered on the gridiron, and the headed north to I-65 with a big season-opening victory.
Louisiana Tech is coming off a slaughter against Southern, scoring 62 points and had its starting quarterback throw just three incompletions.
As weird as it may seem to say, both WKU and Tech are going to face better opposition this week, so last week really isn't a good litmus test either way. I see the Tops' offense getting back into a groove, but I also see Tech's defense having a plan good enough to keep WKU under what you'd be accustomed to seeing in 2014.
The Tops defense is already so much improved, but let's see what it can do when faced with a quarterback like Driskel and a running back like Dixon. It's going to be an entertaining game from start to finish - part of me hopes it's what we saw in Huntington last year - and you know the Tops are hungry for revenge.
I'd give Louisiana Tech the edge, but I think it being a short week for the Bulldogs proves to be the difference. I originally had WKU losing, but upon further thought, give me the Tops by a touchdown and a field goal, 49-39.