RUSTON, La. – Off to one of the best starts in school history, No. 22 Louisiana Tech is starting to dream about perhaps even getting the school's first bid to one of the BCS bowls.
To do so the Bulldogs — holding their highest ranking every — must stay on the path toward their second-straight Western Athletic Conference title. They need to remain perfect in league play, and the next step toward those goals comes this Saturday when they host Texas-San Antonio.
The Bulldogs (7-1, 2-0 WAC) boasted the nation's top-scoring offense prior to last week's game against New Mexico State, when they scored a season-low 28 points in the victory over the Aggies. Louisiana Tech still ranks second nationally in scoring, now averaging 52.6 points.
"It was good for us to be challenged that way," Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes said of his team's relative offensive stumbles last week. "We probably had a little bit of the sense that we could just roll the ball out there and score 50, 60 points. I think that the game proved that we could not. We dropped really two touchdown passes, missed three field goals and stopped at the 1-yard line. So, if you do those things, you typically get beat.
"We have to play better on offense. That will be something we have to improve on this week and continue to get better on defense."
Dykes said he expects vigorous resistance from UTSA in the first meeting between the two schools — even though the Roadrunners (5-3, 1-2), now in only their second season as a football program, are more than four-touchdown underdogs.
"They are actually a good football team," Dykes said. "You can see them improving. I think what has happened is they played a pretty favorable schedule early and gained a little confidence. I really think they did a smart thing scheduling and got some confidence, and then they played some of the better teams in the WAC."
Looking to snap a three-game losing streak after starting the season off 5-0, things are not going to get any easier for UTSA and coach Larry Coker.
"Losing is tough and it will wear on you," Coker said. "We have had great individual performance, but now we need to have a great team performance. We are doing some good things, but we have to make sure not to give up the big plays on defense. We also need to run the football."
The Roadrunners will try to pull off the upset with redshirt freshman quarterback Ryan Polite making only his third career start.
"Ryan had a pretty decent game" last week, Coker said. "But we need to help him out with the running game. ...We really have no margin for error, and we can't keep spotting teams points. We can't keep putting our defense in a hole."
Louisiana tech, by contrast, has a strong running game led by Kenneth Dixon, who has 864 yards and 17 touchdowns rushing this season.
And the Bulldogs have no issues with a lack of experience under center, with senior quarterback Colby Cameron having one of the top seasons of any quarterback in the country.
On the watch list of virtually every quarterback award this season, Cameron has completed 225 of 319 passes for 2,598 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also has yet to throw an interception, which Coker noted, "is amazing considering how much they throw the ball."