Louisiana Tech (3-0) at Virginia (2-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 29, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Scott Stadium (61,500) -- Charlottesville, Virginia. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: LA Tech 1-0, Virginia 2-0 Away Record: LA Tech 2-0, Virginia 0-2. Neutral Record: LA Tech 0-0, Virginia 0-0. Conference Record: LA Tech 0-0, Virginia 0-1. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The high-powered Louisiana Tech Bulldogs will head to Charlottesville to take on the stumbling Virginia Cavaliers at Scott Stadium in a non-conference matchup this weekend.
Louisiana Tech is off to a fast start this season with three straight wins. The Bulldogs have now won 10 straight regular-season games which is the third longest streak in the nation. The Bulldogs have scored at least 50 points in each contest this year, which marks the first time a Louisiana Tech squad has accomplished the feat in program history. The Bulldogs have also won seven straight road games for the first time since 1970.
After back-to-back wins to open the season, Virginia has dropped two in a row. Both of those games were on the road, including a 27-7 loss to TCU in Forth Worth last weekend. The Cavaliers have been outscored 83-27 during the two- game losing streak.
Although this will be the first meeting all-time between these squads, Virginia does hold a 3-1 record all-time against WAC competition, including a 2-0 mark at Scott Stadium.
Scoring has not been an issue at all for Louisiana Tech this season. The Bulldogs are scoring at a torrid 54.7 points-per-game clip which is ranked behind only Oklahoma State and Florida State for the best scoring average in the country. Louisiana Tech is just slightly off that high rank in terms of total offensive production with the Bulldogs gaining an average of 536.7 yards per game (11th nationally).
One of the great strengths for the Bulldogs has been finishing drives. Louisiana Tech is 17-for-17 this season in the red zone, with 16 touchdowns. That rate of success could take a hit after it was announced by head coach Sonny Dykes on Tuesday that starting running back Tevin King will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. Kenneth Dixon (244 yards, four touchdowns) will now become the primary back.
While losing strength in the run game is not optimal it will not be detrimental to the squads offensive output. The Bulldogs have relied far more heavily on the pass with 913 of the team's 1,610 yards of total offense coming through the air. Quarterback Colby Cameron has been superb this season completing 69.4 percent of his passes for 913 yards and 11 touchdowns. Cameron has also done a solid job of protecting the ball as he enters play without an interception.
Quinton Patton is Cameron's favored receiver this season with the wideout catching 17 passes for 319 yards and four touchdowns, all team-highs.
With the offense picking up yards and points so rapidly, Louisiana Tech's opponents have also produced effectively on offense to try to keep up. Thus far the Bulldogs are allowing 498.0 yards and 36.7 points per game which are both the worst marks in the WAC. In fact the Bulldogs have been outgained by a 990-913 margin in passing yards this season.
Solomon Randle and Rufus Porter are the two leading tacklers on the squad with 28 and 24 stops, respectively. However the two have combined for only 18 solo tackles. Chad Boyd and Javontay Crowe each have 20 total tackles and team- highs in solo tackles (12).
Virginia has not been nearly as strong an offense in terms of scoring, averaging just 21.8 points per game, while being outscored 118-87 by its opponents. In the Cavaliers' most recent loss to TCU they were only able to avoid a shutout with a five-yard touchdown pass from Phillip Sims to E.J. Scott with a little over four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Sims was brought in after starting quarterback Michael Rocco struggled, throwing for a mere 126 yards, while completing 13-of-28 pass attempts with two interceptions. Sims didn't fare much better, completing 5-of-12 pass attempts for just 63 yards. Rocco will more than likely remain the starter but continued poor performances could give Sims more playing time.
Rocco has done a good job of spreading the ball around with five different receivers recording at least 11 catches this season. Darius Jennings (15 receptions, 183 yards) is the top pass-catcher.
Kevin Parks is a solid running back for the Cavaliers, although not an explosive offensive talent. Parks rushed for 84 yards in the loss to TCU and has now gained 212 yards rushing on the season. Parks works in tandem with Perry Jones, who has picked up 113 yards on 39 carries for a less than stellar 2.9 ypc.
The defense hasn't been able to make up for the offense's shortcomings very often this season. Virginia is surrendering 407 yards per game to its opponents, while collecting just three sacks and three turnovers. The team's total defense ranks ninth in the ACC.
Steve Greer has been one of the more consistent defenders for Virginia this season. The senior linebacker has racked up team-highs in tackles (31), tackles for loss (3.5) and sacks (2.0). Anthony Harris (27) and Henry Coley (26) have each eclipsed the 20-tackle mark through the first four games.
Playing at home may be the only advantage Virginia has in this game. The Cavaliers don't have the defense to keep Louisiana Tech off the scoreboard, nor the offensive firepower to keep up with Cameron and company.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana Tech 31, Virginia 24
09/27 07:15:28 ET