Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 19:  Head coach Skip Holtz of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs objects to a call during the first half of the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl against the Arkansas State Red Wolves at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 19, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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Demoted by BC, Todd Fitch takes over as LaTech’s OC

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A promotion in 2015 was quickly followed by a demotion a year later for Todd Fitch.  Not long after the latter went down, Fitch left town for a fresh start to his coaching career.

Friday, Skip Holtz announced that Fitch has been hired as his offensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech.  Additionally, Fitch will serve as the wide receivers coach for the Bulldogs.

Fitch had spent the past three seasons at Boston College, first as receivers coach and passing-game coordinator in 2013-14 before being promoted to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2015.  However, BC head coach Steve Addazio announced in mid-January that he had hired Scott Loeffler as his coordinator, effectively demoting Fitch back to receivers coach.

Three weeks later, Fitch headed south.

“I am excited to be joining a staff that is part of growing something special,” Fitch said. “This coaching staff has laid the groundwork for a program that has already done some great things and is building a foundation for future success. I am excited for the opportunity to be on a staff with Skip Holtz again and to keep growing this program.”

In addition to BC, Fitch had also been a coordinator at East Carolina and USF. Holtz was the head coach at both of those stops.

LaTech announces date with LSU as Tigers fill out 2018 slate

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 14:  Dustin Mitchell #43 of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs is tackled by Jacob Cutrera #54 and Kelvin Sheppard #11 of the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium on November 14, 2009 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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If you’re into the in-state football thing, mark your 2018 calendars accordingly.

Louisiana Tech announced Thursday afternoon that it has scheduled a 2018 game against LSU in Death Valley.  That contest is scheduled for Oct. 20 that year.

This matchup will mark the 20th all-time meeting between the two football programs, with the last coming in 2009.  While the Tigers are 18-1 all-time against the Bulldogs, the school made sure to note in their release that “Tech remains the only public school in Louisiana to have defeated LSU in football.”

“We want to continue to schedule teams from our state when possible, which allows resources to remain in the state and the fans in Louisiana to experience the best venue in the country, Tiger Stadium,” LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said in a statement.

In a separate release, LSU confirmed the addition of 2018 games against Southeastern Louisiana (Sept. 8) and Rice (Nov. 17). Along with the previously announced game against Miami of Florida (Sept. 1 in the Cowboys Classic opener), LSU’s 2018 non-conference schedule is now complete.

Will Navy QB Keenan Reynolds reclaim NCAA touchdown record?

Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds runs in for a touchdown in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Georgia Southern, Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, in Annapolis, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
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Two Saturdays ago in the Army-Navy Game, Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds set the NCAA Division 1 record for career touchdowns by picking up his 85th touchdown. That record lasted all of one week. On Saturday night in New Orleans, Louisiana Tech running back Kenneth Dixon upped the record total by two with four touchdowns in a New Orleans Bowl victory over Arkansas State, giving him 87 career touchdowns in his final game of his collegiate career.  The four-touchdown performance was a New Orleans Bowl record.

So now Reynolds is down by two touchdowns with one more game to play. Navy will take on Pittsburgh in the Military Bowl next week, and the game will be played in Navy’s home stadium in Annapolis. Reynolds must score twice to tie the record he set the last time he was on the field, and three to reclaim sole ownership of the record. This season, Reynolds has scored at least three touchdowns in a game three times this season. Reynolds had a five-touchdown game against East Carolina, four touchdowns against SMU and three against Connecticut. Reynolds also had four games with at least three touchdowns accounted for in 2014, so he clearly has three touchdowns in him.

Will Pittsburgh give up three touchdowns? While Pat Narduzzi is having some progress being made with the program, the defense has given up 21 points seven times this season, including 29 to Miami and 34 to Louisville in the final two regular season games of the season. So yes, there is a chance Reynolds can reclaim the record in his final college football game, but it may not come too easily. Navy may go out of their way to try to give him the record if the opportunity presents itself, but odds are Reynolds would be just as happy handing off to a teammate if it means Navy ends the year with a bowl victory.

Driskel’s 457 yards, Dixon’s four TDs power LaTech to dominating New Orleans Bowl win

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 19:  Jeff Driskel #6 of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs is pursued by Cody Brown #21 of the Arkansas State Red Wolves during the first quarter of the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 19, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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If you’re a Florida fan, and you’ve watched Louisiana Tech at all this season, you’ve probably wondered “where the hell was that?” when it came to Jeff Driskel‘s play. If you watched the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, you were probably in that very same choir singing from a strikingly similar hymnal.

Thanks to a heaping helping of Driskel — and a healthy dose of the record-setting Kenneth Dixon for good measure — Tech was able to pull away from Arkansas State in a dominant second half and secure a 47-28 win in the 15th R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. The Bulldogs also won the Heart of Dallas Bowl last year, giving Tech back-to-back bowl wins for the first time in the program’s history.

It also served as an exorcising of demons of sorts for Driskel, whose last trip to the Superdome was a two-pick performance in a 10-point loss to Louisville in the Sugar Bowl following the 2012 season. This time around, Driskel, as he has been for most of this season, was superb, completing 26-of-37 passes for a career-high 457 yards and three touchdowns. Most impressively, especially considering the Red Wolves’ defense came into the game leading the country in interceptions, Driskel was turnover-free.

Driskel, a graduate transfer in his first year with the Bulldogs, salvaged not only his collegiate career in Ruston but also set himself up for a shot at being a mid-round NFL draft pick next April with his performance this season. In 13 games in 2015, Driskel threw for 300-plus yards eight times; in 29 career games with the Gators, he never hit that mark.

Not to be outdone, Driskel’s teammate left a record-setting mark in what has been a phenomenal and prolific under-the-radar career.

Dixon, a senior running back, accounted for four touchdowns on the day, two each rushing and receiving. That gives the Arkansas native 87 career touchdowns rushing and receiving, giving him — for the moment — the all-time FBS record. Whether that remains the all-time FBS record, though, is to be determined as Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds will enter the Midshipmen’s bowl game with 85 total touchdowns (all on the ground).

All told, Dixon accounted for 203 all-purpose yards — 112 receiving, 91 rushing.  That effort was a part of a Tech offensive explosion that gave the Bulldogs a whopping 673-323 advantage in total yards.

Both Tech and ASU finish their respective seasons at 9-4.  The Bulldogs have now won nine games in back-to-back seasons under Skip Holtz, while the Red Wolves have won 16 games in two seasons with Blake Anderson at the helm.

CFT Previews: Your Dec. 19 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 25: head coach Trent Miles of the Georgia State Panthers walks on the sideliens in the second half against the Georgia Southern Eagles at the Georgia Dome on October 25, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 19 bowl menu, which on “opening weekend” features five bowl games as the 2015 postseason officially kicks off.  Included in that quintet of contests is one bowl making its debut, another in just its second year as well as the holiest of Beehive State wars.

WHO: Arizona (6-6) vs. New Mexico (7-5)
WHAT: The 10th Gildan New Mexico Bowl
WHERE: University Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico
WHEN: 2 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: The uncertainty over the availability of Arizona starting quarterback Anu Solomon (concussion) has some sportsbooks, including the one we use for lines, Bovada.lv, taking the game off the board.  If Solomon is healthy, the Wildcats would likely be double-digit favorites; without him, one could make a very good case for the Lobos.  In fact, the Wildcats went 0-3 in games that Solomon either didn’t start or didn’t finish because of injury.  Even with Solomon on the field for most of the last five games, though, UA still lost four of those.  UNM, meanwhile, comes into its first bowl berth since 2007 on a high, finishing out the season with wins over bowl-bound Utah State (6-6), Boise State (8-4) and Mountain Division champion Air Force (8-5).  The combination of how both teams finished the season, the uncertainty over Solomon and ‘Zona likely feeling underwhelmed with its postseason lot has a very motivated Lobos squad primed for an upset.
THE LINE: Off the board
THE PREDICTION: New Mexico 33, Arizona 27

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WHO: BYU (9-3) vs. Utah (9-3)
WHAT: The 24th Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
WHERE: Sam Boyd Stadium, Whitney, Nevada
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
THE SKINNY: This promises to be one of the best “non-marquee” bowl games of the 2015-16 cycle because not only are both teams coming into it with nine wins but because of the whole “Holy War” aspect, and in Sin City no less.  The two football programs have been on a sabbatical the last two seasons in a rivalry that’s seen 89 previous matchups, but will resume in the regular season beginning next season and running through 2020.  The Utes have won four straight in the series and nine of the last 12 meetings dating back to 2002.  The Cougars’ situation is somewhat muddled as their long-time head coach, Bronco Mendenhall, has accepted the same job at Virginia but will coach his “former” team in the bowl game.  After beginning the season 6-0 and with playoff talk dancing in their heads, the Utes muddled through the remainder of the schedule at 3-3.  Here’s to guessing the Cougars, winners of seven of their last eight, add to their rival’s late-season misery and send their old coach with off with his first bowl win since 2012 — especially if words can be used as motivation.
THE LINE: BYU, +3
THE PREDICTION: BYU 27, Utah 23

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WHO: Ohio (8-4) vs. Appalachian State (10-2)
WHAT: The 2nd Raycom Media Camelia Bowl
WHERE: Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Alabama
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: There were 21 teams that won 10 or more games during the 2015 regular/championship season; I’d bet you could make some pretty decent coin regarding Appalachian State’s inclusion in that select group.  And ASU’s two losses this year came against top-ranked Clemson in Death Valley and 2015 Sun Belt Conference champion Arkansas State.  Ohio University, not to be confused with Brady Hoke‘s derisive “Ohio” directed at Ohio State, had a near-perfect start to the season at 5-1, with the only loss coming by three at Minnesota… before they lost three in a row (two by a combined 66 points)… before they regrouped to win their last three by a combined 49 points.  The Bobcats are looking for their first bowl win since 2012, while the Mountaineers are playing in their first bowl game as an FBS program.  ASU is a touchdown favorite… and even that might be a little on the short side.
THE LINE: Ohio, +7½
THE PREDICTION: Appalachian State 45, Ohio 24

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WHO: San Jose State (5-7) vs. Georgia State (6-6)
WHAT: The 1st Cure Bowl
WHERE: Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Florida
WHEN: 7 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network
THE SKINNY: If you like underdog stories, tune into this one.  Georgia State went 3-29 from the beginning of the 2013 (first FBS season) through the eighth game of the 2015 season.  The Panthers then ripped off four straight wins — by double digits in each, no less — to close out the year and reach a level 6-6 to become bowl-eligible.  GSU’s Nick Arbuckle, one of the most prolific quarterbacks you’ve probably never heard of, is currently sixth in the country in passing yards with 4,160.  Its head coach, Trent Miles (pictured), will very likely be one of the hot names on the 2016 spinning of the coaching carousel.  As for San Jose State?  I have zero desire to discuss a sub-.500 team that doesn’t deserve a bowl bid.  And this isn’t to pick on the Spartans; rather, this will be a running theme throughout these types of posts when it comes to 5-7 teams getting an unwarranted and undeserved invitation to the postseason. [/steps off soapbox]
THE LINE: Georgia State, +3
THE PREDICTION: Georgia State 31, San Jose State 21

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WHO: Arkansas State (9-3) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-4)
WHAT: The 15th R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
WHEN: 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Arkansas State lost its first two games of the 2015 season (USC, Missouri) then won nine of its last 10 to become the first team in Sun Belt history to go unblemished in conference play.  Louisiana Tech features the potent one-two punch of former Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel (14th nationally in passing yards with 3,575, 26th in pass efficiency) and touchdown machine Kenneth Dixon (83 career scores, tied for second all-time among FBS players).  One thing to keep in mind if you’re the wagering type when it comes to Driskel’s success through the air this season: the Red Wolves are currently 95th nationally against the pass, giving up an average of 251.9 yards per game; Driskel was held under that number just twice in 2015.  ASU did intercept 26 passes this season (No. 1 in the country), and Driskel tossed three in a season-ending loss to Southern Miss, so there is that if you’re on the Red Wolves side.
THE LINE: Arkansas State, +2
THE PREDICTION: Louisiana Tech 48, Arkansas State 45