If Texas A&M’s game against Louisiana Tech would have gone off as originally scheduled Aug. 30, it would have drawn little interest.
At the time the Aggies were preparing for the head-coaching debut of Kevin Sumlin against a Louisiana Tech squad that garnered no national attention.
Hurricane Isaac made sure that didn’t happen as the game was postponed.
Now Saturday’s game in Shreveport has a completely different feel as the Aggies (4-1) come into the game winners of four straight and nationally ranked for the first time this year. They get a Louisiana Tech team that puts up video game scores and is undefeated and nationally ranked as well.
“The game being moved from the first week to now may have created some more excitement not just locally but nationally because you have two ranked football teams,” said Sumlin, whose Aggies are ranked 22nd.
While the Aggies are the betting favorites, they look up to the Bulldogs when it comes to offense. Louisiana Tech, which is ranked for the first time since 1999, has scored at least 50 points in all but one game and average 53.2 points a game to go along with more than 520 yards a game.
Louisiana Tech would like to be this year’s Houston, a non BCS team that had a shot of crashing the BCS party until losing its conference championship game last year. Sumlin coached that Houston team and is well aware of how teams like Louisiana Tech can derail a season. One of Houston’s big wins last year was a 35-34 come-from-behind victory at Louisiana Tech.
Sumlin certainly doesn’t see it as a trap game as the Aggies take a break from SEC play.
“You know what you’re getting into,” he said. “It’s a Top 25 team. From our standpoint and a team standpoint, we’re playing a Top 25 football team. Based on where we are right now, we haven’t accomplished anything that would say that we’re not excited. We’ve got something to prove ourselves.”
Last weekend the Aggies they showed they could overcome adversity on the road. Despite six turnovers, A&M rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Mississippi 30-27. The key to the comeback was the play of redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel, who was intercepted for the first two times this season but also threw the game-winning touchdown pass.
Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes knows the importance of slowing Manziel.
“That is the thing you have to do against them is pick your poison,” said Dykes. “Are you going to blitz them and let him run out of the pocket or if you are going to blitz them do you want to play man coverage and have a bunch of guys with their backs turned covering them and not knowing where the quarterback is going with the ball?”
While the Aggies boast Manziel, Sumlin has some worries of his own. Louisiana Tech is also very balanced, running for more than 230 yards a game.
“You look at what they’re doing rushing the football – freshman Kenneth Dixon has been very impressive and I watch the video, No. 32 Ray Holley where did this guy come from,” Sumlin said. “He didn’t play last year but he’s a good back. Their running game has really spurred them on.”