Louisiana Tech fans would probably like to forget the last two Saturdays. Since November 16th, the Bulldogs have gone from BCS hopeful to WAC afterthought.
What’s worse is that the two teams that Sonny Dykes’s squad lost to since that time are now ranked in the BCS standings, and fellow non-AQ school Kent State is almost assured a BCS bowl bid if it can win the MAC Championship Game on Friday night, and if Stanford beats UCLA in the Pac-12 title game.
There is no time to dwell on lost opportunities, though. The Bulldogs will still be playing somewhere during the holiday season.
The question is where will they play?
Thanks to two straight losses against Utah State and San Jose State, Louisiana Tech fell to third place in the WAC standings. In addition to losing out on the final opportunity for WAC football hardware, the Bulldogs are now the last choice of many bowls with a WAC tie-in.
Those bowls include the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, New Mexico Bowl and Hawaii Bowl.
Since Utah State accepted a bid to play in Boise in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on December 15th, it is clear that Louisiana Tech will not be heading to the blue turf this December.
The New Mexico Bowl has also already accepted Nevada to play in its game on December 15th. While the bowl technically has a tie-in with the WAC, it would only choose a team from the conference if the Pac-12’s 7th place finisher was not bowl-eligible. The Pac-12 has eight bowl-eligible teams, so it seems unlikely that the Bulldogs would receive an invitation to play in Albuquerque.
That leaves Louisiana Tech with two possibilities, one of which is fairly open-ended. The Bulldogs could receive an invitation to the Hawaii Bowl to play on Christmas Eve, or could fill a bowl slot left void by a conference without enough bowl-eligible teams.
The one stipulation with the Hawaii Bowl is that a Mountain West team would normally be invited unless an agreement is made, due to the fact that Hawaii now plays in the Mountain West Conference instead of the WAC.
However, the Hawaii Bowl seems like a good fit for Sonny Dykes’s team. Normally, a WAC member takes on a team from Conference USA in what has historically been a very high scoring bowl game.
In fact, since officially becoming known as the Hawaii Bowl in 2002, the winning team has failed to score 36 points just once (Nevada won 24-17 over Southern Mississippi last year).
A high scoring affair would be right up Louisiana Tech’s alley, and perhaps the only way the Bulldogs could return to Ruston with a trophy. The team leads the nation in scoring average with 51.5 points per game, and also racks up the most yards averaging 577.9 per game.
There is also the possibility that Louisiana Tech could fill the void created by a conference without enough bowl-eligible teams. In this case, geographic factors come into play.
The SEC, who is allotted 10 bowl slots, only has nine eligible teams for the postseason. The tenth slot would likely be invited to play in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, less than 70 miles from Louisiana Tech’s campus in Ruston.
It would not be surprising if the bowl extends an invitation to the Bulldogs because of the perceived willingness for fans to make the short trip to Shreveport to see the team play.
While some of the more wealthy fans of the Bulldogs might like to see the team make the trip to Honolulu, it seems far more likely that the Independence Bowl will extend an offer to the WAC’s third-place finisher.
Location is important regarding ticket sales, and the Shreveport-Bossier area has the highest concentration of Louisiana Tech alumni in the country (via ktbs.com).
Shreveport may not be very far from Miami, but based on the magnitude of the bowl games being played at each site, the distance probably feels ten times further for a Louisiana Tech team that was in the driver’s seat for a BCS bowl bid two weeks ago.