Both teams were 0-3 on the road and facing a 4th game that was dangerous, but winnable. The Bulldogs fell to 3-4 last year after going out to West Point and losing to Army 14-7. This year, Tech is heading to Utah State. The Aggies are just 1-5, but they have played well in their losses and are a lot better at home.
The Bulldogs have a chance to start 3-1 in the WAC for the first time since 2005. Head Coach Derek Dooley is hoping this game turns out better than last year's Army game. "A lot of it has to do with who you're playing," he said. "We've played three really good teams on the road."
Tech fans are looking more to last year's San Jose State game, where the Bulldogs went on the road and won 21-0. The Bulldog defense has played great in recent weeks. They held Hawaii out of the endzone in a 27-6 win three weeks ago at home. Last week, Tech held NMSU's offense scoreless in a 45-7 win.
Can the defense take those two dominating performances and put it together on the road? It took them until the 8th game of the season to do it in 2008. At the time, the loss to Army seemed devestating. The offense didn't play well and a winning season looked improbable. The Bulldogs used it as a season changing motivator and ran off four straight wins.
If Louisiana Tech wants to repeat last year's bowl berth, they really can't count on winning four in a row this year. The Utah St. game is really a must win for Tech fans hoping for that bowl game. After playing the Aggies, Tech has a very tough four game stretch. A road game against a much improved Idaho, back home for Boise State, a trip down to LSU, then a trip out to Fresno State awaits the Bulldogs.
Louisiana Tech wraps up the 2009 season at home against San Jose State. If the Bulldogs are going to be 6-5 going into that final game and looking for another winning season, they really need to beat Utah State, Fresno State, and one of the teams from Idaho.
Will a 6-6 finish be the end of the world? Of course not. It's still an improvement over 2007 and the schedule is tough. What we have seen in Coach Dooley's first two and a half years is a vastly improved defense, special teams, and overall team chemistry.
2010 brings a much more veteran team for Tech along with a much more manageable schedule. If 2009 gives Tech anything, it gives them experience and another good recruiting class to bring in. Coach Dooley only loses 10 scholarship seniors and has alot of talented players waiting their turn to show what they can do.
A bowl game will not make or break this season. Tech fans waited almost 20 years for a bowl game last time around, they can wait two years for the next one. If that wait is going to be shorter, the Bulldogs will almost have to win this week.
Louisiana Tech held Diondre Borel to 204 yards passing last year, but forced him into three interceptions. The turnover battle is something Tech almost always has to win in order to succeed. Robert Turbin rushed for 99 yards and three touchdwons last year against Tech and Borel 56 yards and two scores on the ground. Utah State went for 38 points against Tech and forced the Bulldogs to score 45 for the win.
Tech threw two interceptions of their own and lost a fumble against Utah State last year. Tech can't turn the ball over on the road and expect to win. They have to take care of the ball and they have to get Daniel Porter going. On defense, the Bulldogs must contain Borel and Turbin and they must force turnovers.
Look for Tech to get it done on the road 27-17. An inspired defense and speed on special teams will be the difference. Tech should improve to 4-3, 3-1 and go into Idaho with bowl hopes still in the back of their minds.