Texas A&M-Louisiana Tech Preview

The season opener between Texas A&M and Louisiana Tech was

postponed, but it was definitely worth the wait as these surging

teams will meet for the first time when both are in the Top 25.

The 22nd-ranked Aggies look to improve to 11-0 in this series

Saturday night in Shreveport, where the 23rd-ranked Bulldogs will

try to extend the nation’s longest regular-season winning streak to

13 and improve to 6-0 for the first time.

Looking to open its inaugural SEC season and first under coach

Kevin Sumlin on a positive note, Texas A&M (4-1) never made the

trip for the Aug. 30 matchup against Louisiana Tech due to

Hurricane Isaac.

Since losing 20-17 to then-No. 24 Florida in their season opener

Sept. 8, the Aggies have rolled off four straight victories – the

team’s best run since a six-game win streak Oct. 23-Nov. 25,

2010.

Despite a season-high six turnovers, Texas A&M won its first

SEC road game last Saturday, 30-27 over Mississippi. Redshirt

freshman Johnny Manziel led two late fourth-quarter touchdown

drives, running for a 29-yard score and throwing a 20-yard TD pass

to senior Ryan Swope.

Manziel’s passing efficiency of 162.8 is 12th in the FBS, and he

leads the Aggies with 495 rushing yards and seven scores on the

ground.

“Their quarterback play has been really good. He is kind of a

unique player with talent,” Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes said.

“He is very, very difficult to contain. He is somebody that if you

rush him he makes more plays, but if you let him sit back there and

have all day then he will pick you apart throwing the football. So,

it is kind of a unique challenge.”

Sumlin also realizes his squad faces a tough test. The Bulldogs

are third in the nation with 53.2 points per game and are averaging

523.4 yards, 11th-most in the FBS. They defeated UNLV 58-31 last

Saturday.

“I’m not surprised by them being ranked,” Sumlin said. “…

They’re not going to be intimated by us one bit, and they shouldn’t

be. This is a game that doesn’t surprise me where they are. As a

matter of fact, I think they’re probably a little low being

ranked.”

The Bulldogs are in the Top 25 for the second time and first

since 1999, and they’re trying to surpass the 1975 team that also

opened with five wins.

“(Being ranked) is just a distraction,” senior cornerback Quinn

Giles said. “We do not really look at that. We are not worried

about being ranked right now. We are just trying to win games.”

Louisiana Tech, though, is winless in 13 straight against ranked

opponents since a 40-28 victory at then-No. 23 Fresno State on Dec.

2, 2005.

However, the Bulldogs could change that if they remain among the

best in turnover margin, as they are tied for second in the FBS at

plus-2.2.

Senior Colby Cameron can take plenty of credit for that with 13

TDs and no interceptions, while the defense has recovered 10

fumbles and recorded five INTs – all in the last three games.

Louisiana Tech’s secondary could have its hands full with Mike

Evans, Thomas Johnson, Uzoma Nwachukwu and Swope, who is one shy of

200 receptions, but Dykes’ team cannot ignore a rushing attack

that’s totaled 218 yards or more during each of the last four

games.

The Bulldogs’ running game is 16th in the FBS with 232.2 yards

per game. Senior Ray Holley and freshman Kenneth Dixon, who was

named the Western Athletic Conference offensive player of the week

after running for 102 yards and four TDs last Saturday, should get

plenty of touches against the Aggies with Tevin King out for the

year with a torn ACL.

Texas A&M, which is holding opponents to 3.2 yards per

carry, is 14th in the FBS in scoring defense at 14.8.

The Aggies, a 48-16 winner the last time these teams met Sept.

11, 2010, posted a 37-17 victory in their only road game versus

Louisiana Tech on Sept. 4, 1999.