Last year, Louisiana Tech came within a stone's throw of knocking off Boise State (6-0, 2-0 WAC) in Ruston. In that game, the Broncos held on for a 45-35 win. If the Bulldogs (3-4, 2-1) are to turn the corner and shock the nation Tuesday - what tasks must be satisfied?
Jenkins Jump-Starts the Offense -- In Tech's last game, a 48-35 win over Idaho, quarterback Ross Jenkins threw for 417 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Dawgs will need a similar effort from their field general on Tuesday.
While that's easier said than done - BSU is second in the nation in points allowed (12.3) - Tech has quite an explosive weapon in WR Ahmad Paige, who caught two TD passes vs. Idaho. Paige, a Tennessee signee out of high school, has big-time speed. Paige's exploits couldn't have come at a better time, as the Bulldogs recently lost excellent WR Tim Molton to injury.
Defense with an Attitude -- Tech has proven over the past two years that it can compete with the big boys. Now it's time to win one of those games. In 2009, the Dawgs led LSU in the second half before succumbing.
Safety Chad Boyd, one of the most physical defenders in college football, silenced the hostile crowd in Baton Rouge that night with a devastating hit on WR Terrance Toliver. Boyd is tied for the team lead in interceptions this year and an early pick of BSU QB Kellen Moore (who only has 1 INT this season) would do wonders in terms of momentum.
Creer is our Creed -- RB Daniel Porter gained 92 yards and scored a TD in the '09 loss to BSU, but the durable Porter has since departed for the CFL.
Enter Lennon Creer, who simply "is" Tech's ground game. Creer, with 568 yards, is easily the Dawgs' top rusher (no one else has more than 159 yards) and he will need to keep the Broncos' defense honest.
Boise State has a top-notch, veteran front four, so Creer will be hard-pressed to match his average of six yards per carry. Thus, the onus is on Tech's offensive line to open holes for the senior. Creer amassed almost 180 yards in the Idaho win. He's hot right now and will need to stay that way in the cool mountain air.
Less of Moore -- The Broncos have arguably the most efficient, productive offense in the country and it all starts under center with junior southpaw QB Kellen Moore.
Tech was outgained more than 2-to-1 (507 yards to 250 yards) last year, even though that statistical imbalance wasn't reflected on the scoreboard in BSU's 10-point margin of victory.
The Bulldogs can't let that happen again. Cornerback Josh Victorian and safety Tank Hilliard-Calais must join Chad Boyd and come through with some clutch plays to keep Moore from marching his offense up-and-down the field.
Matt Broha and Mason Hitt, the most-productive pass rushers with nine combined sacks, must penetrate the pocket and keep Moore off-balance. Junior LBs Adrien Cole and Jay Dudley are one/two on the team in tackles and the duo will need to be all over the field vs. the wide-open BSU offense.
Light it up with Livas/Right Fit for Fitte -- Louisiana Tech has athleticism; no question about it. Phillip Livas, an all-around threat with 4.30 speed, can do wonders with the football in his hands and he needs to touch the rock as much as possible.
Earlier in the year, Livas was sidelined due to injury, but he's back in business now, as shown vs. Idaho (52-yard TD reception).
Conversely, sophomore Lyle Fitte is another home-run threat. Fitte, the third-leading receiver (16 catches) on the squad, also averages close to five yards per carry and he's been especially nasty on kick returns (28.4 yard avg.)
Kick it to the Curb -- Sophomore kicker Matt Nelson is 10-of-13 on field goals. He'll need to continue being accurate so that Tech can cash in on any drives that stall in BSU territory.
BOTTOM LINE -- No one - outside the confines of Ruston and Boise - remembers that Louisiana Tech took the Broncos to the wire last year. BSU is a huge favorite and deservedly so, having run roughshod over all competitors this year.
Regardless, Tech has the horses on offense to score against any defense. The Dawgs, down by 20 at the half last year, rallied behind a pick-six by Josh Victorian. They'll need a similar spark on Tuesday to tame the Broncos on the road.
BSU relied on the trio of RB Jeremy Avery, WR Austin Pettis, and WR Titus Young (350-plus yards combined, 3 TDs) last year. The bad news is that all three are back. The worse news is that RB Doug Martin has joined the group in tearing up defenses.
Louisiana Tech isn't known as a defensive-oriented team, but the Bulldogs will require an outstanding effort from that side of the ball vs. Boise State.