The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs are making their final season in the Western Athletic Conference one for the ages, as they are one of only 16 undefeated teams left in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
While eligible to earn an at-large bid to the BCS National Championship Game should they finish the regular season ranked first or second in the BCS rankings, the more likely scenario will have the Bulldogs challenging for a second straight WAC title and a spot in a lower-echelon bowl game.
LaTech head coach Sonny Dykes was asked recently about the BCS and his team's chances of reaching the title tilt. While not taking anything away from his team and all it has accomplished to this point, he didn't pull any punches.
"The BCS is certainly not based on any kind of fairness. Basically, you have a national championship that excludes half the football teams, so it's not necessarily built on quality and fairness."
Dykes went on to say, "But, that is the way it is in college football. You just deal with it and do the best you can. That is kind of our approach when it comes to pretty much anything. Our deal really is when you are fighting for respect and credibility, every game is important because if we had lost last week, that would have been the biggest game of the year."
Louisiana Tech won the 2011 WAC crown, its first conference championship since 2001, and the team is 5-0 heading into this week's non-league clash with Texas A&M. The game was originally scheduled as the season opener for both teams, but was rescheduled due to the effects of Hurricane Isaac on the gulf region.
The Bulldogs, who own the nation's longest regular-season winning streak (12 games) and have garnered enough national attention to earn the 23rd spot in this week's AP Poll for their first Top-25 mention since 1999, are preparing to take on a Texas A&M team they have never beaten (0-10 all-time). The Aggies, who are in their first year as a member of the SEC, come into the clash ranked No. 22.
While not on par with in-state power broker LSU, or regional luminaries like Alabama, Mississippi State, Arkansas or the bigger Texas schools, LaTech has made folks stand up and take notice this season by notching wins over Houston, Rice, Illinois, Virginia and UNLV. The Bulldogs have scored no fewer than 44 points in any game, and come in averaging 53.2 points and 523.4 yards per contest.
Senior QB Colby Cameron has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for almost 1,500 yards and 13 TDs. He has yet to throw an interception, and his favorite receiver is senior Quinton Patton (34 receptions, 532 yards, five TDs). The Tech run game accounts for 232.2 ypg, with freshman Kenneth Dixon (424 yards, eight TDs) thrust into the role of the team's workhorse since fellow rookie Tevin King (369 yards, five TDs) went down with a season-ending knee injury late last month.
Defensively, it's another story entirely as there is much work to be done. The Bulldogs allow an average of 35.8 ppg, and if you can imagine, they are actually being outgained by nearly eight yards per outing. They have been especially lax against the pass (369.6 ypg, 16 TDs), despite posting double- digit totals in both sacks (11) and turnovers (15).
A win this week, which would be its first over a ranked foe since 2005, would further cement Tech's reputation as one of the up-and-coming programs in the country, and while the WAC hasn't offered much in the way of national support over the years, the team's move to Conference USA for the 2013 season should help in that regard.
Dykes realizes that with the playing field being what it is right now, winning one game at a time and putting themselves in position to win the final WAC football crown is where the Bulldogs need to keep their focus.
"Anytime you play and you are in the situation we are in, every game is big. Not from the BCS, because that is so far away and that is so far removed from even entering our minds," he continued, "I mean I do not even know how to spell BCS. That is like miles and miles away from our thoughts. Our thoughts are just about trying to win football games and have a program that people think is significant."
Louisiana Tech hasn't posted back-to-back winning campaigns since 1996-97, and the team has been to consecutive bowl games only once in its history (1977-78). Regardless of whether or not they beat Texas A&M this week, the Bulldogs are certainly in position to achieve both of those goals this season.