Army (1-3) vs. Louisiana Tech (1-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 28, 4 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Cotton Bowl (92,100) -- Dallas, Texas. Television: FOX Sports 1. Home Record: Army 1-2, Louisiana Tech 1-1. Away Record: Army 0-1, Louisiana Tech 0-2. Neutral Record: Army 0-0, Louisiana Tech 0-0. Conference Record: Army 0-0, Louisiana Tech 0-1. Series Record: Army leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: A pair of teams with 1-3 records on the season will collide at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on Saturday afternoon when the Army Black Knights battle the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.
For Army the 2013 campaign has been a dismal one thus far. The Black Knights are riding a three-game losing streak into this game, with their only win of the season coming against FCS foe Morgan State. Last weekend Army dropped a 25-11 contest to Wake Forest at home. It was the lowest scoring output of the campaign for the Black Knights.
Louisiana Tech hasn't fared much better in the early going. The Bulldogs are also 1-3 and have yet to top a FBS program in their first season under head coach Skip Holtz. The only win the Bulldogs have came against FCS foe Lamar (27-14). The Bulldogs nearly pulled off a victory last weekend against Kansas, but the Jayhawks scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, including a 52-yard field goal from Matthew Wyman as time expired, to escape with the 13-10 victory.
These teams have squared off just once prior to this Saturday's matchup. During the 2008 season the Black Knights edged out the Bulldogs, 14-7, in West Point.
Army's normally potent rushing offense was held in check against Wake Forest for the most part. Though the Black Knights averaged 4.9 yards per carry the team totaled just 271 yards on the ground. While that would be a huge number for most squads, the triple-option attack the Black Knights run usually has them finish somewhere in the 300-yard range. Army is currently 10th in the country in rushing yards (303.7 ypg).
Even though the team runs the ball constantly, the most important offensive weapon is still Army's quarterback. Angel Santiago may not pass often, but he currently leads the team with 271 rushing yards on 62 carries. Santiago is also tied for the team lead in rushing touchdowns with three. As a passer Santiago is decidedly weaker, completing just 39.4 percent of his limited pass attempts (13-of-33) for 193 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
The stable of running backs that Santiago can option to may be somewhat depleted this weekend. Raymond Maples (123 yards) is listed as questionable with a groin issue. That will put more pressure on Terry Baggett (258 yards) and Larry Dixon (242 yards). It is additional pressure both should be able to handle though, as each is averaging more than seven yards per carry.
Though the aerial assault isn't much of an assault at all, Army does have a talented pass-catcher in Xavier Moss, who has more than twice as many receptions (12) and receiving yards (146) as any player on the roster.
For how much they run the ball, it would stand to reason that Army could slow opposing rushing attacks with some success. Unfortunately for the Black Knights, that is not the case. Army is allowing more than 180 yards on the ground per game, after letting up 228 to Wake Forest. However, Army has had some success against the pass and is allowing team's to total just 375.8 yards per game total.
Thomas Holloway leads the team with 33 tackles, although only one is for a loss, while Geoffrey Bacon has also reached the 30-tackle plateau. Army has not been able to get much pressure on opposing quarterbacks with just six sacks as a team.
Last year Louisiana Tech was one of the most productive and feared offensive squads in the country. Under Holtz that has changed. The Bulldogs are averaging just 373 total yards per game, while accumulating just 66 first downs in four games. Holtz has brought more balance to the offense as the team is averaging 199.5 yards per game through the air and 173.5 on the ground.
Ryan Higgins got the start at quarterback for the Bulldogs against Kansas and did well, throwing for 289 yards and a touchdown on 33-of-55 passing. With regular starter Scotty Young still questionable with an injury, Higgins may be called on again.
The production from the skill positions has been well spread out for the Bulldogs. Tevin King (309 yards, TD) and Kenneth Dixon (283 yards, TD) have been a solid running back tandem, while D.J. Banks (18 receptions, 114 yards), Hunter Lee (eight receptions, 112 yards, TD) and Sterling Griffin (14 receptions, 100 yards) form a solid receiving trio.
On defense Louisiana Tech is allowing 416 yards per game, but the Bulldogs have been strong in the red zone, allowing just six touchdowns in 13 trips. The Bulldogs also rank at the top of Conference USA in sacks (13) and fourth in interceptions (five). IK Enemkpali is the top pass rusher (5.5 sacks), while leading tackler Daniel Cobb (34 tackles. 8.0 TFL, 1.5 sacks, INT) has been productive in more ways than one.
Both of these teams are desperate for a win to turn the season around. Higgins proved that he can be an effective passer and the Bulldogs have the offensive weapons to hang with the run-heavy Black Knights. Having more balance on offense will be the key for the Bulldogs in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana Tech 24, Army 20
09/25 10:36:24 ET