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Road to Saturday: Louisiana Tech hits its stride as Texas-San Antonio builds a program

Frank Schwab
Dr. Saturday

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Louisiana Tech RB Kenneth Dixon (US Presswire)

It's a fun time to be a Louisiana Tech fan.

Way down the list of the BCS standings, all the way at the bottom at No. 25, is a team that has never been on that list before. The Bulldogs are also climbing up the AP poll (22nd) and USA Today coaches poll (23rd). Last week Louisiana Tech got its first win in school history as a ranked team.

The attention that eluded the school early in the season is finally coming.

"I have never gotten use to waking up the next morning to look at the polls and seeing your team up there," safety Chad Boyd said. "It has been kind of good the last couple of weeks. It is a great feeling."

Not only are the Bulldogs good this season, at 7-1 going into a game against Texas-San Antonio, they are one of the most exciting teams in the country too.

The Bulldogs are averaging 52.6 points per game, which is second in the nation behind Oregon. The country got a taste of how fun Louisiana Tech is to watch when it played a high-profile game against Texas A&M on Oct. 13. The Aggies scored 59 points and barely survived. Louisiana Tech scored 57 points, coming back from a 27-point deficit and scoring with 38 seconds left to pull within two points. The two-point conversion fell short, giving Louisiana Tech its only loss this season. Who knows where Louisiana Tech might be in the polls had it converted and won in overtime. Texas A&M has never allowed that many points in a nonconference game.

Coach Sonny Dykes' offense seems to be in a contest with itself to see how fast it can score. The Bulldogs have 17 touchdown drives this season that have lasted a minute or less. In one 76-minute span, which started during the Texas A&M game and continued to its next game against Idaho, the Bulldogs scored 127 points. That's 1.67 points per minute, a figure some college basketball teams would be thrilled to reach.

That's one reason Dykes will probably be coveted by other schools needing a new head coach pretty soon. Not only is he winning, his style is going to be attractive for any school that likes selling tickets. Dykes has built a good program. The Bulldogs have only been to bowl games in consecutive years once, in 1977-78. They will match that feat this year.

"Just to know that this team has done so much for this university, this area, and just see our name up there with some of the great teams that have been consistent in all the years, it is a good feeling for us," Boyd said.

Texas-San Antonio, in just its second year of existence, aspires to be what Louisiana Tech has become. Larry Coker -- a familiar name to college football fans -- has done a good job leading UTSA in the right direction.

Coker won the 2001 national championship at Miami, guiding one of the most talented teams in college football history after Butch Davis left before that season to coach the Cleveland Browns. The challenge of building a program from scratch couldn't be more different.

Coker led the Roadrunners to a respectable 4-6 record last year. They are 5-3 this season against an understandably soft schedule for a young program. Although an upset of Louisiana Tech seems unlikely, especially considering UTSA is coming off a 48-17 loss to Utah State, Coker seems to understand games like these are part of the growing process.

"We are playing a top 25 team next week," Coker said after the Utah State loss. "We need to get better in different areas. I want us to play the way we can play, and if we can do that, I'll be fine with that."

If Coker and UTSA need a model of how a program can go from virtually unknown to national prominence in a short time with the right leader, all they need to do is look across the field this Saturday.

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