Utah State (8-2) at (19) Louisiana Tech (9-1)|
Saturday, November 17, 4 pm (et)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: A battle for the top spot in the Western Athletic Conference
standings takes place on Saturday afternoon, as the 19th-ranked Louisiana Tech
Bulldogs play host to the Utah State Aggies.
The only two teams still undefeated in WAC play, USU and LaTech are both 4-0
at the moment, although the Bulldogs have won a total of nine games in 10
chances overall this season, and the Aggies are a game back at 8-2.
Off to their best start since 1974 when they also opened 8-2, the Aggies are
4-0 in conference play for the first time since 2000 when they competed as a
member of the Big West Conference. The team enjoyed a bye in the schedule last
week which means their most recent outing came on Nov. 3 when they dumped
Texas State, 38-7. The win was the fourth straight and the sixth in the last
seven outings for a team that is again bowl eligible.
With seven straight home victories, the Aggies are enjoying their longest run
of success on their own field since they tallied eight consecutive home wins
over the course of 1966-68.
As for the Bulldogs, they've been lighting up scoreboard since they first took
the field this season. Louisiana Tech, which could easily be undefeated at
this point if not for a wild 59-57 loss to Texas A&M last month in Shreveport,
set four NCAA records last weekend as it held on to defeat the aforementioned
Bobcats in a 62-55 final on the road in San Marcos, Texas.
"We were fortunate to win'" Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes noted. "We
really were lucky to make enough plays to win the ball game, but I thought it
was a good win for us. Any time you go on the road and win, it is always a
positive, and again, we did what it took to figure out how to win the game."
Louisiana Tech leads the all-time series by a count of 6-3 and is 3-1 at home
in Ruston over the years. The Aggies last claimed victory in a 23-21 final in
"It's fun to be in a game that has this much on the outcome, this late in the
year," recognizes Utah State head coach Gary Andersen. "Late November games
are what football teams play for and fans want to be around. It's a great
accomplishment by both sides to get to the point where both teams are. We are
excited about the opportunity to compete and I am sure they are too."
For the Aggies, the focus needs to be on the defense and whether or not they
can slow down Louisiana Tech enough to make things competitive. After 10 games
Utah State owns the fifth-best run defense in the nation, allowing 94.6 ypg,
and in terms of total defense USU is giving up just 303.3 ypg which is 12th-
best in the country.
Three times this season the Aggies have held an opponent to a touchdown or
less and that's why the squad is permitting a mere 13.5 ppg, best in the WAC
and sixth-best in the country.
But make no mistake, the Aggies also have some top-notch performers on offense
in quarterback Chuckie Keeton and all-everything Kerwynn Williams. Keeton may
be just a sophomore, but he has shown great poise in the pocket with his 23
touchdowns and just seven interceptions. Not only has Williams run for 1,005
yards and nine touchdowns thus far, he is also tied for the lead with 35
receptions, resulting in 499 yards and another three scores.
As good as USU might be on offense, few teams in the nation can claim to be as
explosive as the Bulldogs at this stage of the season. The squad is first in
total offense with an unbelievable 576.5 ypg and is second in scoring with
53.4 ppg, thanks to the efforts of running back Kenneth Dixon and quarterback
Dixon ran for 144 yards and four touchdowns and added another score on a pass
reception which gives him 24 rushing touchdowns on the year overall, breaking
the NCAA record of TDs on the ground by a freshman previously held by Marshall
Faulk (San Diego State, 1991) and Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech, 2009) who both
recorded 21. Cameron also carved out a spot in the record books for himself as
he set a new NCAA record for consecutive pass attempts without an
interception, his run of 419 passes still going strong heading into this week.
Perhaps the scariest part of how much Dixon (1,052 yards rushing) and Cameron
(328.3 ypg, 27 TDs) have dominated this season is that lost in the shuffle is
receiver Quinton Patton who has 83 catches for 1,086 yards and 11 TDs of his
own and has been named as a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award.
Granted, the defense for the Bulldogs has some serious holes as it gives up
505.7 ypg and 36.2 ppg, but it seems as though the team is willing to bend in
that area in order to trot the offense onto the field as much as possible. The
success of the offense has also kept punter Ryan Allen, the 2011 Ray Guy Award
winner, off the field a bit more these days, but still has the team leading
the nation in punting this year with 43.1 yards per kick.
"Utah State is a great team," Cameron admits. "I think it is encouraging for
our team knowing that we have not played our best on both sides of the ball.
We have not played a complete game and I think once the offense, defense and
special teams can all get on that same page I think we will have a real
explosive game, and I think this week will be good to just focus on the little
things and get better at the details. Hopefully, we can play like we know we
If Cameron thinks there's still potential for a real explosive game, compared
to previous outings this season, this contest should be one of the most
entertaining of the season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana Tech 41, Utah State 35
11/14 10:41:58 ET