Louisiana Tech was originally scheduled to face Texas A&M in Shreveport, La., on the first Thursday night of the season, but Hurricane Isaac forced the game's postponement to this Saturday (9:15 p.m. ET, ESPNU). At that time, the main consequence seemed to be the delay of coach Kevin Sumlin's A&M debut by nine days.
Six weeks later, however, the game carries serious BCS implications -- for Louisiana Tech.
This week, coach Sonny Dykes' team
"They are not going to be intimidated by us one bit and they shouldn't be," Sumlin said of the No. 23 Bulldogs. "I think they are probably ranked a bit low. ... This is a chance for them to make a statement on national TV so we are going to get their best shot."
The Aggies (4-1) also entered the Top 25 this week, one spot above Louisiana Tech, and they present a much stiffer challenge than the Bulldogs' opponents to date. Redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel has shined in Sumlin's hurry-up offense, rushing for 495 yards while completing 69.3 percent of his passes for 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions. A&M ranks eighth nationally in scoring offense (44.6 points per game), putting it just five spots behind Louisiana Tech.
The stakes are obvious. If the Bulldogs can pull the upset (they're currently eight-point underdogs), they'll become prime contenders to crash the BCS, a previously unimaginable goal for a program in remote Ruston, La. Not that Dykes, their third-year coach, is ready to go there. "I do not even know how to spell 'BCS,'" he told reporters this week. "That is like miles and miles away from our thoughts."
One interesting dynamic for Saturday's matchup is that both programs' offenses are descendants of the Air Raid family tree. Dykes first worked with Mike Leach under Hal Mumme at Kentucky in the late '90s, reuniting with him after Leach became Texas Tech's head coach in 2000. Kliff Kingsbury, the Red Raiders' quarterback at the time, is now Texas A&M's offensive coordinator. He came over with Sumlin from Houston, where another Leach protégé, Dana Holgorsen, originally installed the offense in 2008.
Dykes was my guest this week on
But the two offenses you'll see Saturday are really pretty similar. They're going to have a little bit more quarterback run game because of Johnny Manziel, their quarterback, he's a uniquely talented guy, really does a good job of creating offense. They've done a good job building the offense around his skill-set and allowing him to be a creative football player. It'll be similar. You know, the run games are a little different: Theirs will be a little bit more of a quarterback-based run game, ours will be a little bit more of a running back-based run game, but a lot of the passing concepts will be pretty similar.