2010 Outlook: Breaking Down Louisiana Tech's Schedule

Shelby MaddoxContributor IMarch 24, 2010

Say what you like about the talent of the Bulldogs, but they certainly can set their goals high.

The 2010 complete Tech schedule was recently released, and it should be an interesting first season for Sonny Dykes, who is faced with the task of renovating the 4-8 team from '09.

9/04/10 - vs. Grambling State

This will be the first time these two teams have met, despite being only five miles apart. Grambling is an FCS team playing in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. While GSU is a relatively good team, Tech should have no trouble shutting down the Tigers in Sonny Dykes' first game as head coach.

The game will be played in Independence Stadium.

Pick: La Tech

9/11/10 - @ Texas A&M

This game should be interesting. A&M went 6-7 last year, and ended with a crushing defeat in the Indy Bowl against UGA, 44-20.

Johnson is a scrambler. Tech's CBs have the speed and coverage ability to severely limit his air game, and that means that the line will have to compensate by shutting down the ground game and scrambles.

Tech has never beaten Texas A&M in the seven games they have played since 1981.

While the game against Grambling should be a given victory, this one will be a true test of Dykes' coaching skill.

However, the A&M offense is still very good, while the defense is lacking. If we can force turnovers and keep the chains moving, it should be a winnable game.

But a team coming off a 4-8 season and major coaching changes rarely breaks out a Cinderella season, and unless Tech's offense and defense go through an incredible maturation, these bragging rights will stay at College Station.

Pick: Texas A&M

9/18/10 - vs. Navy

This will be the second game of the one-for-one deal with the Naval Academy. In 2009, the Midshipmen had a wonderful season, going 10-4 and ending with a bang in a Texas Bowl win over Mizzou.

Navy had the No. 4 rushing attack in the nation last year. With the loss of much of our D-box strength, this game will probably go to the Academy.

Pick: Navy

9/25/10 - vs. Southern Miss

This will be the first meeting since 1992 for these two teams, when Southern Miss beat us 16-13.

The Golden Eagles went 7-6 last season, finishing with a New Orleans Bowl loss.

They like to spread the field, and so Tech should be able to cover them well and prevent the air game.

Pick: La Tech

10/02/10 - @ Hawai'i

Conference play opens in Honolulu, against a team that Tech lambasted in the annual Red Out game in Joe Aillet Stadium. Everything was clicking for the Dawgs that night.

Hawaii went on to a 6-7 record, including a brutal 51-10 domination in Aloha Stadium by Wisconsin.

Once again, the air game is the Warrior's greatest strength, and Tech will be hard-pressed in the secondary, but the matchups are favorable.

We should have no trouble this year against Hawaii.

Pick: La Tech

10/09/10 - vs. Utah State

The last game against the Aggies was one of the '09 Dawgs' many fluke losses.

Utah State went 4-8 in 2009 but somehow managed to hold Tech back for a 23-21 win.

The retooled offense will not let this year be a repeat.

Pick: La Tech

10/16/10 - vs. Idaho

Yet another fluke loss, this time by one point. The 7-5 Vandals beat Tech 35-34 in a game Tech should have won.

Idaho's season ended with another one point win, this time against Bowling Green in the Humanitarian Bowl.

However, they do present a dual threat, putting up impressive numbers in both the air and ground games.

But revenge should be strong motivating factor for Tech, and this game is the Dawgs' homecoming. Joe Aillet will be roaring for Vandal blood, and they will not escape unscathed.

Pick: La Tech

10/26/10 - @ Boise State

No one had any doubts last year about the 13-0 Broncos crushing the poor Dawgs in a required conference game last year.

That was before the 4th quarter, when Tech was so close to an upset they could smell it. A tired Dawg defense and Kellen Moore's arm finally shot Boise into the clear to continue their undefeated season.

The game will be televised on ESPN2.

As much as I would like to see an upset here, and as much as Tech is improving, Boise is improving more (no pun intended).

We will give them a run for their money again. I am prayin' for an upset.

But I will pick conservatively.

Pick: Boise St.

11/06/10 - vs. Fresno State

Fresno finished 8-5 last year, No. 3 in the WAC.

However, they only beat Tech, the other WAC Bulldog team, by two points: 30-28.

That brings the number of two or less point losses by Tech to three games.

These other Bulldogs have a very solid RB, Ryan Matthews, who rushed for 1808 yards and 19 touchdowns last season, despite suffering a concussion against Nevada.

Statistically, though, Tech dominated last year's game. The game was won by a Fresno field goal in the final minutes of the game.

Matthews did not play against Tech due to his injury the week before.

Fresno ended the season with a 35-28 loss to Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl.

Unless we can significantly improve on rush defense, this Dawg fight goes to Fresno.

Pick: Fresno St.

11/13/10 - @ New Mexico State

Louisiana Tech crushed NMS last year in Ruston with a 45-7 win. They should be able to replicate in Las Cruses and extend their win streak against the Aggies to four.

NMS slid out of 2009 on an eight-loss streak to finish 3-10.

Pick: La Tech

11/27/09 - @ San Jose State

In the last game of the '09 season, Tech was desperately looking to end a heartbreaking season on a good note.

And they got it.

They defeated the 2-10 Spartans 55-20 and headed to the showers.

It was a crushing blow to the Spartans. Dick Tomey had hoped to end his career on a high, but the Dawgs put their foot down.

Tomey was the sixth most winningest coach in the FBS before his retirement.

Tech's Daniel Porter set the school all-time career rushing record in that game, going 199 yards for a career total of 3,352 yards.

Even with SJS's new coach, they should not be a problem for the Dawgs once again.

Pick: La Tech

12/04/10 - vs. Nevada

Kaepernick and Taua travel to Ruston this year after deconstructing the Dawgs the previous season.

Tech has not beaten Nevada since 2004.

Last season's game was Wolf Pack coach Chris Ault's 200th win; Nevada's expectations and fans bolstered Kaepernick's incredible read ability as well as Taua's run game to lift them 37-14 over the Dawgs.

It was blow after blow for Tech as Kaepernick threw, handed off, and scrambled all over the field.

The Wolf Pack, No. 2 in the WAC last year, went 8-5 and ended with a 45-10 loss to SMU in the Hawaii bowl.

This is Tech's final game of the season, a home game, no less. Factoring in the high possibility of injuries, the chances that we'll break Nevada's five-win streak are low.

We've got to have a loud, final game, rip-roaring crowd if we want to end this season well.

The Wolf Pack had the second worst pass defense in the nation last year. That's a weakness we have to exploit.

Pick: Nevada

Final regular season prediction: 7-5