Louisiana Tech-Texas St. Preview
By TAYLOR BECHTOLD
(AP) -- In what has become a season of firsts for the program, Louisiana Tech still has an outside shot at adding a major one in the postseason.
A BCS bid is a real possibility for the Bulldogs, whose ranking in those standings and the AP poll are the best in school history heading into Saturday night's road game against struggling Texas State.
Louisiana Tech (8-1, 3-0 WAC) is ranked for a school-record third consecutive week at No. 19 and also has climbed to 20th in the BCS standings. The Bulldogs would need to move up at least four spots on that list - and finish ahead of a champion from a BCS conference - to have a shot of grabbing the lone at-large BCS berth from a non-automatic qualifying conference.
While this matchup with the Bobcats (3-5, 1-2) is not expected to get in the way of Louisiana Tech's hopes to reach its first BCS bowl, the next two weeks provide much tougher tests. Those opponents are the only other WAC teams with winning conference records - Utah State and San Jose State - and they are a combined 15-4 overall.
The Bulldogs, who reached the Top 25 this season for the first time since 1999, have won 15 of their last 16 regular-season games. They've won three straight since dropping a 59-57 thriller to then-No. 22 Texas A&M on Oct. 13.
Offensively, the Bulldogs have been as explosive as any team in the country not named Oregon. They're averaging 52.4 points per game, second nationally only to the Ducks (54.3).
Louisiana Tech has put up more than 500 total yards of offense in five straight games, including 537 in last week's 51-27 win over Texas-San Antonio. The team ranks third in the FBS with 570.9 yards per game.
The prolific attack features senior quarterback Colby Cameron, who has thrown for 2,946 yards and 24 touchdowns without an interception in 358 attempts. Cameron, third nationally in completion percentage (71.2) and fourth in passing yards per game (327.3), last threw an interception Dec. 21 in a Poinsettia Bowl loss to TCU.
"I just try to play," Cameron said. "I don't think about it too much."
Cameron completed 30 of 39 for 346 yards and three touchdowns against Texas-San Antonio as the Bulldogs won their ninth straight WAC contest. Quinton Patton, fourth in the FBS with 75 receptions, had 10 catches for 152 yards and a score.
Behind freshman Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech also possesses one of the most potent ground games in the country. Dixon has 16 rushing TDs over the past five games, including three last Saturday, and has set a single-season school record with 20.
That total also leads the nation and is one shy of the NCAA freshman record, set by San Diego State's Marshall Faulk in 1991 and matched by Virginia Tech's Ryan Williams in 2009. Dixon should be able to find room against a Texas State defense allowing 202.8 rushing yards per game, second-worst in the WAC.
"The sky's the limit for him," Patton said. "When I first saw him out on the field for practice, he was always trying to shake and bake and everything, and I told him, 'You're too big to be doing that shaking stuff. ... Just run through people, run over them.' And you've seen where it's gotten him."
The Bobcats, who have never faced Louisiana Tech, are still trying to find their way in their first season as an FBS program. They've been outscored 161-58 in four losses against teams with winning records.
Marcus Curry leads the Texas State offense with 379 rushing yards on 5.3 per carry and ranks third in the WAC with seven rushing touchdowns. Senior quarterback Shaun Rutherford has run for 298 yards and thrown for 1,220, but he's completed just 22 of 41 passes for 201 yards over the past two games - both Bobcats losses.
While Louisiana Tech has allowed more yards per game through the air (344.1) than any other team in the WAC, Texas State has thrown for a conference-low 178.5 per contest.
Updated November 6, 2012