Skip Holtz

Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

WKU outlasts La Tech in record-setting Conference USA championship game

Leave a comment

Western Kentucky (10-3) became the second program in Conference USA history to win back-to-back conference championship games on Saturday with a wild offensive shootout against Louisiana Tech (8-5), 58-44. Hilltoppers quarterback Mike White passed for 403 yards and four touchdowns and Anthony Wales led things on the ground with 194 rushing yards and three scores to push the home team past the Bulldogs.

Offenses for both teams were locked in from the start, with over 1,100 combined yards of offense. Louisiana Tech quarterback Ryan Higgins passed for 507 yards and three touchdowns, but Western Kentucky used a more balanced approach and had an advantage on the ground to help overcome three turnover sin the game. Wales carried the football 35 times for Western Kentucky and was a workhorse for them from start to finish, with the final touchdown of the game ultimately delivering the knockout punch to Louisiana Tech, who would throw an interception on their final possession.

With 102 combined points, Western Kentucky and Louisiana Tech set a new combined points record for an FBS conference championship game. The previous record was 101 points, which was done twice. Wisconsin and Nebraska scored 101 point sin the 2012 Big Ten championship game (won by Wisconsin, 70-31) and Auburn and Missouri matched that point total the following season in the SEC Championship Game (won by Auburn, 59-42).

Coming into the game, Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz made it a point to say his team could not give up big plays if they were to get a win. Needless to say, that did not work out in his favor in this one.

The last time a school won back-to-back Conference USA championships was in 2008 and 2009 when East Carolina won consecutive titles. Perhaps in a bit of irony, Holtz was the coach of those ECU teams.

The future of the Western Kentucky program will be something to keep a close eye on. Head coach Jeff Brohm has been linked to various coaching rumors, most noticeably with the Purdue vacancy in the Big Ten. He has certainly proven worthy of being a hot name in the coaching carousel after coaching Western Kentucky to back-too-back 10-win seasons for the first time in program history.

For now, bowl destinations will have to be settled.

Former Iowa QB will start for Louisiana Tech


The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs were plagued by poor quarterback play during Skip Holtz‘s first season as head coach. Holtz will now lean on a transfer from the Big Ten Conference to turn the offense around during his season season.

Iowa transfer Cody Sokol was named the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback Monday.

“He’s won the job with the way he’s protected it, and the way he’s learned the offense and some of the plays he’s made,” Holtz told the Shreveport Times.

Sokol didn’t play a meaningful snap during his two-year stay in Iowa City. Once the quarterback graduated from Iowa, Sokol began to search for a new home. He found one in Ruston, Louisiana.

“It was a hard year for him but that’s why I have such great respect for him,” Holtz said. “I’m glad we have him. I’m glad that he’s made the progress that he has, and I think he’s going to be an outstanding quarterback here.”

Holtz said he is confident in both the quarterbacks that competed for the starting job. Sophomore Ryan Higgins started six games last season. But this was Sokol’s job to lose after the team pursued him to be a one-year stop gap. Higgins’ 6-to-13 touchdown-to-interception ration simply isn’t good enough.

Sokol will have to prove he is the player last seen at Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College if the Bulldogs are going to improve dramatically from last season’s 4-8 record.

(Hat Tip: NBC’s KTVE)