Battle of the Bone Set for Ruston
Posted Oct 1, 2004 15:17:41
RUSTON - It's arguably the biggest game at Joe Aillet Stadium in a decade or more when the 17th ranked Fresno State Bulldogs face the homestanding Louisiana Tech Bulldogs Saturday at 6 p.m.
Although still quite early in the 2004 season, the winner will have an inside track to the Western Athletic Conference title while the loser will have to fight uphill the remainder of the year.
Fresno State (3-0, 0-0 WAC) enters the game undefeated with impressive wins over Washington and Kansas State while Louisiana Tech (2-2, 1-0 WAC) has lost two straight to top 10 teams, falling at No. 4 Miami and at No. 8 Tennessee.
"It's going to be tough," said Tech linebacker John Nash when asked about playing Fresno State. "We fought Fresno and they've beaten us three straight years. I haven't beaten Fresno since I've been in college. That's something we obviously want to do. It's something that everyone in Ruston would love to see and that will give us more incentive."
If the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs are to be successful, much of the burden will rely upon junior quarterback Matt Kubik, who makes only his second career start. Kubik, who passes for a career-high 258 yards against Tennessee last weekend, will attempt to solve a Fresno State defense that has caused the Bulldogs headaches over the past three seasons.
"Fresno State just has good players," said Tech head coach Jack Bicknell. "They have very, very good secondary players. They really break on the ball. They probably have as much talent as anybody in the league, especially on the defensive side of the football. They've given a lot of people trouble."
During the last two meetings between Fresno State and Louisiana Tech, the California-based Bulldogs have held the usually potent Bulldog passing attack in check. In the 45-13 loss in 2002 and the 16-6 loss last year to Fresno State, Louisiana Tech's Luke McCown, who passed for over 12,000 yards and 87 career touchdowns, managed to complete only 40 of 73 passes for a mere 387 yards and two interceptions.
With the success of Bulldog running back Ryan Moats (102 carries for 692 yards, five scores) this year, Fresno State is expected to load up to stop the run, thus putting the pressure on the Tech passing game.
"I think we can take some positives away from the Tennessee game," Bicknell said. "We opened up the offense a little bit and were able to make more plays. The receivers were able to make some plays, and I thought Matt did a good job for the most part against a very, very good defensive football team. We will have to be able to do that again this week."
Fresno State enters the contest ranked first nationally in pass efficiency defense as Pat Hill's team has already recorded six interceptions on the season led by All-American candidate James Sanders with three. The FSU Bulldogs have already returned three interceptions for touchdowns this year.
Hill's squad also has the benefit of having two weeks to prepare for the game after a bye week, something that Fresno has thrived with posting an 8-1 mark after bye weeks since Hill took over the reigns of the program.
The game can be heard on the Louisiana Tech Radio Network with Dave Nitz and Steve Davison providing the action on KXKZ-FM 107.5 (Ruston) and KRMD-AM 1340 (Shreveport).
The game can be seen on Cox Sports TV and is also part of ESPN's GamePlan package for the week.