Nov. 28, 2014
RUSTON, La. - The story of how the West was won will be unfolded at Joe Aillet Stadium as Louisiana Tech playing host to Rice Saturday at 11 a.m. to decide Conference USA's West Division representative in the league's championship game on Dec. 6.
Louisiana Tech (7-4, 6-1 C-USA) can clinch the divisional title with the win in just its second year in the league while Rice (7-4, 5-2) is looking to win its second consecutive West Division title.
The western showdown will be televised live on CBS Sports Network with Ben Holden (play-by-play), Kevin O'Connell (analyst) and Courtney Fallon (sidelines) calling the action.
The winner of the game will advance to face Marshall in the Conference USA Championship Game on Dec. 6 although with the Thundering Herd's overtime loss to Western Kentucky Friday, the location is still to be determined.
"It doesn't get any bigger or better than that," Owls coach David Bailiff said. "That was one of the goals going into it -- to be champions of the West. We got the help that we needed and we've got to head to Ruston and we're looking forward to that game.
For the Bulldogs, they must regroup after a disappointing overtime loss at Old Dominion last week in which they could have clinched the division. Now, a Rice team that beat LA Tech 52-14 last season looms in the final game of the regular season.
"As I told the team yesterday, as much as we wanted to win this game, it was Game 6 in the playoffs," Holtz said at the team's weekly press conference on Monday. "You lost Game 6 on the road, which is the bad news, but you get Game 7 at home on Saturday.
"I do not know if any game around Saturday will have as much meaning as this one will," Holtz continued. "We have No. 1 against No. 2 in a winner--take-all game. That is the scenario we talked to our team about. Game 7 is all about winner take all. The team that wins it, has the opportunity to claim the West. This is going to be an exciting week. I know our players are excited about it."
The turnover battle is likely to be a key area in deciding Saturday's winner. Louisiana Tech enters the week ranked second in the nation with 32 turnovers gained (21 interceptions, 11 fumble recoveries) while Rice is second in the nation in turnovers lost, giving up only three fumbles and five interceptions.
Louisiana Tech's stout run defense - ranked first in the league and 24th in the nation - meets a talented, methodical rushing offense that is averaging over 182 yards per game with two running backs already having tallied over 600 yards this season.
Additionally Rice starting quarterback Driphus Jackson is not prone to mistakes with only five interceptions and 17 touchdowns thrown this season in 267 pass attempts. Louisiana Tech has registered 21 total interceptions this year with nine different defensive players having recorded a pick this season.
The Owls are tough on defense as well, ranked 36th in the nation in rushing defense. Rice has already registered a school-record 33 sacks on the year (an average of 3.0 per game) while LA Tech is only allowing an average of 1.36 sacks per game.
KXKZ 107.5 FM will serve as the flagship station for the LA Tech Sports Network for the 16th straight year as the 100,000 watt station will carry all of the Bulldog football games in 2014.
In addition to KXKZ, the LA Tech Sports Network will consist of KNBB-FM 97.7 (Ruston), KPCH-FM 99.3 (Ruston), KJVC-FM 92.7 (Mansfield), KTKC-FM 92.9 (Springhill), KBEF-FM 104.5 (Minden), KASO-AM 1240 (Minden), KVCL-FM 92.1 (Winnfield), WUBR-AM 910 (Baton Rouge/Zachary), KDBS 1410-AM (Alexandria/Pineville) and KRMD-FM 100.7 (Shreveport) which also simulcasts on 1340 AM.
All Bulldog football games can also be accessed online (audio for all games) by purchasing a subscription to LA Tech All-Access on LATechSports.com. Cost of a subscription to LA Tech All-Access is only $9.95 per month or $79.95 for the entire year (which includes all live broadcasts for all of Tech's athletic teams).
Fans can also choose to purchase the C-USA Digital Network subscription for $14.95 per month or $119.95 per year which includes all of the above content as well as audio and video for all road C-USA games along with additional video content throughout the year.
This fall all of the Tech football broadcasts can be heard on the LA Tech Sports Network as Dave Nitz, Teddy Allen, Malcolm Butler and Bennie Thornell comprise the broadcast team. Nitz - one of the longest-tenured broadcasters in college football - is entering his 40th year of broadcasting Bulldog Football games.
For complete coverage of Bulldog Football, please follow @LATechFB on Twitter or visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com.