HEAD TO HEAD: ARMY VS. LOUISIANA TECH

Army faces Louisiana Tech on Saturday in Dallas. ArmySports.com's Jim Lawler compares the two teams in several critical areas. We also make a prediction on the game's final score.

The Army Black Knights (1-3) travel to Dallas to face the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (1-3) at the Cotton Bowl in the newly created Heart of Dallas Kickoff Classic. Last week Army lost to Wake Forest 25-11 mostly due to a disappointing offensive performance. Louisiana Tech enters the game following a heart breaking 13-10 loss to Kansas on a last-second field goal. The Black Knights beat Louisiana Tech the only time they played in 2008. This is Army's first visit to the Cotton Bowl since 1967 when the team defeated SMU 24-6.

ARMY PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
LOUISIANA TECH PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: LOUISIANA TECH
REMARKS: Army's quarterback Angel Santiago has completed 13 of 33 passes (39.4%) for 193 passing yards and a touchdown with one interception this season. Santiago threw the ball well in the opener but has not been as that effective since the game against Morgan State. Backup quarterback A.J. Schurr has completed 9 of 14 passes for 64 yards and a touchdown but turned his ankle last week and is listed as questionable. Army fans saw their first varsity appearance of sophomore quarterback Kelvin White last week. He played in the last series and completed 5-of-6 passes for 45 yards. Plebe wide receiver Xavier Moss caught 8 passes for 61yards against the Demon Deacons. Left tackle Michael Kime who has been banged up the last two weeks will have his hands full with the Bulldogs talented right defensive end I.K. Enemkpali.

This year Louisiana Tech's is allowing 273 passing yards per game. Senior defensive end IK Enemkpali was named First Team All-WAC last year as he made 32 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. This season he already has 5 1/2 sacks and has made 19 tackles in four games. Enemkpali isn't huge at 6-2, 250 but he is very explosive off the snap and uses his hands well to beat opposing blockers. Junior cornerback Levander Liggins led the team with pass breakups last year. This season he has 21 tackles, an interception and has knocked down seven passes. Sophomore strong safety Kentrell Brice has 27 stops as a first year starter. Louisiana Tech already has posted 13 sacks this season. If Army is forced to pass they may struggle protecting the quarterback against this defensive front.

ARMY RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
LOUISIANA TECH RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: The Black Knights are currently ranked a below average tenth in the nation in rushing after leading the country the past two years. The Black Knights rushed for 271 yards, averaged 4.9 yards per carry but didn't score a touchdown against Wake Forest. For the third game in a row Army struggled to finish drives and seemed out of synch.. The quarterback play hasn't been very productive with Angel Santiago and A.J. Schurr both having issues and turning the ball over. Santiago ran for 60 yards on 16 carries against Wake Forest and had trouble finding running room. Angel's best running play was on designed quarterback draws or scrambling off pass plays when no one was open. Terry Baggett ran for a career high with 125 rushing yards last week. Baggett has shown the ability to make people miss, turn the edge and run through tackles. Raymond Maples (1,215 yards, 2 TDs in 2012) is out indefinitely with a groin injury. Fullback Larry Dixon (242 yards, 3 TDs) missed the Wake Forest game with an injury but should be back this week. The offensive line played its worse game in years as it was dominated by the Demon Deacons and had six false starts.

Louisiana Tech is ranked 46th in the nation in run defense. They've allowed 134 rushing yards a game. The Bulldogs have allowed an average of 22.8 points per game and just 3.4 rushing yards per carry. The Tech defense is led by Texas Tech graduate transfer Daniel Cobb at Mike linebacker. Cobb leads the team 34 tackles and eight tackles for loss. He has recorded an interception and 1 ½ sacks. Cobb does a nice job of filling the holes on run plays. For the third week in a row the Black Knights will play a big physical veteran defensive line. Senior defensive tackle Shakell Lucas (6-1, 299) and Justin Ellis (6-2, 357) clog the middle of the line. Lucas has made 14 tackles and had a huge game in last year's upset win over Texas A&M. Ellis returns after missing most of 2012 with an ankle injury. He earned second Team All-WAC honors in 2011 and will have a one-hundred pound weight advantage over Army center Ryan Powis. Junior college transfer Mitch Villemez is an active linebacker and has made 24 tackles in his first four games.

LOUISIANA TECH PASSING OFFENSE
VS.
ARMY PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: LOUISIANA TECH
REMARKS: The Bulldogs led the nation last year as they averaged over 51 points per game with a high powered passing attack led by quarterback Colby Cameron and wide receivers in Quinton Patton now of the SF 49ers. The offense returned just three starters. Louisiana Tech is currently averaging 16.5 points per game and 373 yards of total offense. Quarterback Ryan Higgins has completed 42-of-71 passes (59.2%) for 346 passing yards and a pair of scores and is expected to start.. Higgins replaced the injured Scotty Young who is nursing sore ribs. Young is a Texas Tech transfer has completed 46-of-87 passes (52.9) for 452 yards and two scores. The Bulldogs use a four wide receiver set on offense. D.J. Banks currently leads the team with 18 receptions. Senior Sterling Griffin is right behind him. Griffin has made 17 receptions for 152 yards.

Army held Wake Forest's passing game to just six completions in 17 pass attempts last week. It was a nice effort despite the loss. Cornerback Chris Carnegie (15 tackles) is playing the best football of his career. Plebe cornerback Josh Jenkins has intercepted a pass in two consecutive games. Rover Thomas Holloway leads the Black Knights with 34 tackles. Free safety Geoffrey Bacon (30 tackles) will have to play with cast on his wrist after being injured last week. Army has posted six sacks this year and needs to do a better job of generating pressure and creating negative plays. I don't like the match up of SAM safety Shaquille Tolbert against the Bulldogs slot receivers. Tolbert has struggled in coverage this year against slot receivers. He made six tackles last week but was beat by Michael Campanaro on the 66-yard touchdown pass.

LOUISIANA TECH RUSHING OFFENSE
VS.
ARMY RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: LOUISIANA TECH
REMARKS: The Bulldogs have a talented duo that share time in their one back offense. Speedy small Tevin King has returned from knee surgery to lead the team in rushing. King has 46 carries for 309 yards and a touchdown. He ran for 182 yards in the win over Lamar. Last year's starter Kenneth Dixon has 48 carries for 283 yards, a 5.9 average and a touchdown. Dixon had a costly turnover against Kansas last week when he was fighting for extra yardage inside the five yard line and fumbled the ball as he was just yards away from the go-ahead touchdown. Last fall he carried the ball 200 times for 1,194 rushing yards for a 6.0 per carry average with an amazing 27 touchdowns. Upfront Louisiana Tech rebuilt offensive line returns only one starter right guard Matt Shepperd (6-2, 305) from last season. If Ryan Higgins starts at quarterback he is mobile and can run the ball off the zone read.

The Black Knights used a unique 2-5-4 defensive look which confused the Demon Deacons offensive line in the first half last game. Wake Forest's running back Josh Harris was held to 26 yards on 10 carries in the first half. Army struggled in the fourth quarter as it allowed 228 rushing yards, 5.1 yards per carry and two touchdowns on the ground for the game. Athletic linebacker Marcus Poling (9 tackles) is the new starter at Mike linebacker. He splits time with Julian Holloway (16 tackles) who has found a home at Mike linebacker after being used at a flex player. The Black Knights have allowed 4.4 yards per rushing carry and six rushing touchdowns. So far this season Army has avoided allowing long running plays after being plagued with them last season. The longest rushing play they've allowed has been 25 yards.

SPECIAL TEAMS
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: Louisiana Tech's Kyle Fisher has made 6-of-10 field goals with a long of 49 yards this season. Punter Logan McPherson is averaging 38.7 yards per effort. Speedy D.J. Banks is the Bulldogs primary returner. Banks returned a kickoff for touchdown against Utah State last season. Louisiana Tech has one of the longest streaks in the country when it comes to special teams touchdowns. For seven consecutive years, the Bulldogs have scored while the special teams unit has been on the field with either a kickoff or punt return for a touchdown. Andrew Guillot is averaging five yards per punt return.

Kicker Dan Grochowski earned FBS Independent Special Teams Player of the Week honors for the second consecutive week after hitting three field goals last week. Grochowski has nailed five of six field goal attempts this year. Punter Alex Tardieu had his best game last week. He averaged 47.8 yards on five punts. He had two 51-yard punts as he boomed the ball all day long. Jalen Noble is now handling both punts and kickoff returns. The coverage teams need to play better.

INTANGIBLES
EDGE: EVEN
REMARKS: For the second week in a row this is a pivotal game for both teams. Louisiana Tech fans experienced a dream season last year. They have a low patience level for the mediocre offense they've seen since the start of the season. Last year was an amazing year for the Bulldogs. They scored 618 points and finished 9-3. Army needs to prove it can win on the road. They better do it. Four of the last six games are away from Michie Stadium. Army's last road win was in Texas so maybe that will bring good karma to a team that needs a break. They have won their last two contests in Texas and have played Texas A&M tough during their last two appearances in the state.

COACHING
EDGE: LOUISIANA TECH
REMARKS: Skip Holtz is in first season at Louisiana Tech after former head coach Sonny Dykes left for Cal last December. Holtz initially made his mark as head coach for the Connecticut football program. After his father Lou Holtz was named head coach at South Carolina he left to be his dad's offensive coordinator. He was the head coach at East Carolina from 2005-2009 and won consecutive C-USA titles. That led him to South Florida, where his team's record declined three consecutive seasons and he was fired. Holtz career record is 87-71.

Rich Ellerson's team lost a game they really needed to win last week. The defensive has benefited from some lineup changes and with Ellerson becoming more active in calling the defensive signals. The offense has taken a few steps back this year due to the quarterback situation being unsettled and injuries to their best running backs. The Black Knights haven't won on the road since the 2010 Armed Forces Bowl under Ellerson. Army's 2-5-4 defensive look created matchup problems for Wake Forest but The Black Knights stayed with the look after its effectiveness waned in the second half.

PREDICTION: Louisiana Tech, 27-17. I do think this is a game Army can win, however, Louisiana Tech matches up well against the Black Knight with their big defensive line, a physical run defense and a pair of talented running backs. Army's offense seems out of synch right now with the running backs beat up and the passing game inconsistent. The Black Knights haven't won on the road since December 2010. They have to prove to they can win away from Michie Stadium.

InsideArmySports.com Top Stories