Falling to an SEC opponent has been a frequent occurrence for Louisiana Tech football. It’s not exactly the time for mental defeat, however.
If history decides to tell the tale once more in 2015 then Skip Holtz’s Bulldogs may be in better shape than one might presume. A 45-20 drubbing to Mississippi State on Saturday in which Louisiana Tech jumped out to a 14-0 lead would essentially take a toll on a mainstream college football team.
It’s familiar territory for the program to say the least.
Rewind back to 2012 when Louisiana Tech had gradually summoned as a stable club in the WAC. Now the head coach of an up-and-coming Cal Golden Bears squad, Sonny Dykes had blatantly pinned the Bulldogs on the mid-major map. Wins over Virginia and Illinois already checked off the agenda, Dykes and the Bulldogs stormed into Kyle Field and fell to Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies, 59-57, in Week 6.
Disheartening defeats to powerhouses periodically call for crumbling, yet Dykes led Louisiana Tech to a 4-2 record post-Texas A&M, which included an overtime loss to Utah State and a near defeat to San Jose State.
The script followed eerily similar a season ago when Holtz and the Bulldogs tested the Auburn Tigers.
Louisiana Tech had come into the War Eagle showdown at 2-2 (including a 3-point loss to FCS Northwestern State) and a 45-17 trouncing by the Tigers would send the Bulldogs under .500 before October hit.
And that’s when the club blossomed thanks to stout defense and rather convincing domination.
6-1 the final seven weeks would spring the ‘Dogs into the Conference USA title game versus Marshall which culminated with a three-point loss. With Saturday’s loss to Mississippi State, it’s the time for a jolt out of the blue and red.
2015 is seemingly far from over, for a number of reasons. Firstly, Louisiana Tech may very well be the best three-loss team spanning the nation. You can’t dish out excuses or dispute a team’s intangibles but the schedule says it all.
They may not have been gelling at the current time but the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers gave the Bulldogs and their defense fits from the time the ball was booted off the tee, all the way until the final horn sounded.
Louisiana Tech then swallowed its pride and rallied to take Kansas State to triple overtime; the same Kansas State team that held an 18-point lead over the Texas Christian Horned Frogs.
Six-point loss, on the road, again.
Storming out to a two-touchdown lead and then falling victim to a 45-6 run versus Mississippi State is beyond unacceptable yet the quick start and tight-knit game (for three quarters) was all without starting running back Kenneth Dixon.
So now, it’s go time for Skip Holtz’s bunch. The gauntlet of foes has subsided heading into Week 8 and the competition begins to gradually decline as the calendar flips. Call it a second-half program or blatantly check previous data.
Louisiana Tech may be the team that nobody’s humming about. With a minor change of the Conference-USA blueprint from last year the only team that currently looks better than the Bulldogs is Western Kentucky. And we all have an idea of how hard it is to beat the same team twice in one season.
Sitting in a three-way tie with Rice and Southern Mississippi in the West division (2-1), the Bulldogs sit coach and are in command of their destiny. Win out, and a consecutive trip to the title game crops up.
Future opponent’s records sit at 12-20 with Middle Tennessee on deck for Saturday in Ruston. With Dixon’s presence in the backfield returning and the call for Jeff Driskel to bounce back after a discouraging loss, it’s a fresh chapter for the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.
I mean, history says so.