2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 8 - Louisiana Tech at Utah St
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Oct. 22 Louisiana Tech 24 … at Utah State 17
CFN Analysis: Is Louisiana Tech back in the bowl hunt? With two straight road wins over Idaho and Utah State, and with a winnable date with San Jose State up next, the Bulldogs are back in the WAC title chance and playing well at just the right time. The run defense that’s been strong all year picked a great time to come up with its best game of the season, keeping the high-powered Aggie offense to just 166 yards and two scores. If this wasn’t Adrien Cole’s best game of his impressive career, it was close with 14 tackles and two tackles for loss. The passing game still isn’t rolling, with Nick Isham completing just 10-of-22 passes for 63 yards, and Colby Cameron not doing much more when he got his chances, but the offense took advantage of every chance and got help from Terry Carter’s pick six to turn the game around.
For so much promise and potential, the season has turned lousy in a big hurry. Just when it seemed like things had turned around with the blowout over Wyoming, the Aggies blew their first two WAC games losing to Fresno State and Louisiana Tech to all but end any title chances and throw a wrench into dreams of going bowling. The running game couldn’t quite get going, with Robert Turbin coming up with 81 yards, and the passing attack couldn’t pick up the slack with Chuckie Keeton bottled up and throwing his first pick of his career. There’s still time to turn things around, but there’s little margin for error with Hawaii and Nevada still to deal with.
(AP) LOGAN, Utah -- Backup quarterback Colby Cameron led Louisiana Tech to 10 fourth-quarter points as the Bulldogs pushed past Utah State 24-17 on Saturday.
Hunter Lee scored on an 8-yard run on fourth down with 10:19 remaining to give Louisiana Tech (3-4, 2-1 WAC) a 21-17 lead.
With 4:54 to play, Utah State punter Tyler Bennett dropped the snap and was called for an illegal punt after kicking the ball off the ground. That gave the Bulldogs the ball on the 10-yard line and led to Matt Nelson's 25-yard field goal.
Chuckie Keeton threw for 128 yards and rushed for a touchdown for the Aggies (2-5, 0-2), who have led going into the fourth quarter in every game this season.
Terry Carter returned an interception 22 yards for a TD early in the second half to give Louisiana Tech a 14-10 lead. It was Keeton's first intercepted pass this year.
Bulldogs starting QB Nick Isham was 10 of 22 for 63 yards and was sacked twice before being replaced with 1:10 remaining in the third quarter.
Louisiana Tech used a double-pass trick play to gain 45 yards and set up its first score, Lennon Creer's 3-yard run. Utah State had a 1-yard TD dive by Robert Turbin and 43-yard field goal by Nick Thompson in the first half.
The Aggies averaged 298 yards rushing per game (sixth in the nation) coming into the contest but was held to 49 yards in the first half and 166 for the game. Turbin ran for 81 yards and a touchdown.
Louisiana Tech's Ryan Allen averaged 52.2 yards a punt and placed seven kicks inside the 20-yard line.
Louisiana Tech (2-4) at Utah State (2-4) Saturday, 3 PM ET
Here’s The Deal … The Utah State Aggies host Louisiana Tech in a make-or-break game for both teams. The Bulldogs won last year’s game in Ruston 24-6.
Louisiana Tech has played much better than their 2-4 record indicates. The Bulldogs played against an aggressive nonconference schedule that included Southern Miss, Houston, and Mississippi State. While they lost all three of these contests, Louisiana Tech remained competitive, as all three of these losses were by less than a touchdown. In their last game, Louisiana Tech had its best defensive effort of the season, holding Idaho to 291 yards in a 24-11 victory.
Utah State gained national notoriety in the first week of season by dominating defending national Auburn for three quarters before some timely plays on special teams derailed the Aggie upset bid. Unfortunately, fourth quarter comebacks have doomed Utah State this year, as they have limped to a 2-4 start record. Last week was more of the same, as the Aggies jumped out to a 21-14 in the first half, only to have Fresno State score two TD’s in the fourth quarter.
The outcome of this contest will have a huge impact on bowl selection. Louisiana Tech still has to play Fresno State, Nevada, and Mississippi, so they must win all of their other games – including this one – to qualify for their first bowl bid since 2008. While Utah State does not have as tough of a schedule as the Bulldogs, they still need five wins over the second half of the season. Without a win this week, the Aggies will stay home for bowl season again this year.
Why Louisiana Tech might win… Louisiana Tech has won 5 of the 6 meetings in this series. They have won these games by establishing the running game. While the Bulldogs have earned a reputation over the years as a passing team, they have quietly built an effective ground game this season. Despite playing a tough schedule, Louisiana Tech has rushed for over 200 yards in two different games this season. Last week, they ran the ball 48 times for 190 yards against Idaho.
This does not bode well for the Utah State defense, which has had trouble stopping the run over the past few games. After dominating the line of scrimmage for the first three games, Utah State has allowed over 4 yards per carry for the last three games. If the Aggies cannot stop the run, they will have to bring extra defenders into the box to stuff the run. With extra defenders in the box, Louisiana Tech will take advantages of mismatches in the secondary.
Why Utah State might win… Can anyone or anything – other than Utah State turnovers - stop Utah State’s ground game? Despite facing a schedule that included Auburn, BYU, and Fresno State, no one has stopped – or even slowed down - the Aggies rushing attack. Utah State ranks sixth in the nation in rushing yards per game, running for 298.8 yards per contest. More impressively, Aggie running backs average 6.4 yards per carry. This trend continued last week, as they rushed 41 times for 260 yards in last week’s 31-21 loss to Fresno State.
With excellent depth at the running back position, the USU ground game will continue to roll this week. Louisiana Tech has done an outstanding job at stopping the run this year, allowing a pedestrian 3.2 yards per carry. However, with the possible exception of Mississippi State, the Bulldogs have not faced a rushing offense as deep and as athletic as the Aggies. The unique blend of power and speed of the Utah State running backs will cause problems for the front seven.
What To Watch Out For: Even though the success (or failure) of the Bulldog offense will be determined by the running game, Louisiana Tech will still look for big plays in the passing game. When they go to the air, they will get the ball to explosive WR Quinton Patton. With very little fanfare or recognition, Patton has had an outstanding season. Patton ranks in the top 15 nationally in both receptions per game (7.67) and in receiving yards per game (105.83). Patton has played well in big games this season, recording a season-high 11 catches against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs will need on another stellar performance from Patton to have any chance to beat Utah State.
On the other side of the ball, Utah State will look to establish its ground game. While the Aggies will use three different running backs, keep an eye on Robert Turbin. After he missed the 2010 season with an ACL injury, Turbin has taken the WAC by storm. The nation’s sixth leading rusher, Turbin averages 125 yards per game, and an astonishing 6.9 yards per carry. Turbin continued this torrid pace last week, rushing for 145 yards on only 16 carries against Fresno State. Utah State will get him the ball as often as possible.
What will happen: Each team will do what it does best. Louisiana Tech will throw the ball downfield, but will also utilize the running game to take advantage of Utah State’s run defense. On the other side of the ball, the Aggies will continue to run the ball as they have done all season long. With both offenses clicking, this game will remain close. Utah State’s physical run game will tire out the Louisiana Tech defense in the second half. The Aggies pull away in the second half, and take a major step towards bowl eligibility.
CFN Prediction: Utah State 34 … Louisiana Tech 24
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Utah State -6.5 O/U: 51
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