- Sam Khan Jr., ESPN Staff Writer
Campus location: Ruston, La.
All-time record vs. Texas A&M: 0-9* (Louisiana Tech has lost all 10 meetings it has had with the Aggies but Texas A&M vacated a win in 1998 because of use of an ineligible player)
Last season: The Bulldogs went 8-5, won the WAC title and narrowly lost the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl 31-24 to nationally-ranked TCU. They won their final seven regular season games before the bowl.
Last meeting with Texas A&M: The teams met in the second game of the 2010 season in College Station and Texas A&M struggled early, committing five fumbles and missing a field goal, but rode a strong defensive effort to hold a 21-10 halftime lead, eventually rolling to a 48-16 victory over the Bulldogs. Current Aggies Christine Michael (107 rushing yards) and Dustin Harris (54-yard punt return) both had an impact that night while then-quarterback Jerrod Johnson (349 passing yards, four touchdowns) and receiver Jeff Fuller (10 catches, 160 yards, touchdown) exploded. Louisiana Tech's starting quarterback on Thursday, Colby Cameron, went 15-of-13 for 115 yards and threw two interceptions.
Key player: Quinton Patton is the man who will give opposing defensive coordinators headaches this season. "The General" is coming off a 79-catch, 1,202-yard, 11-touchdown season and the senior receiver is on the Biletnikoff Award watch list. He was the preseason WAC Offensive Player of the Year selection.
Why Louisiana Tech might win: As Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said on Thursday "Their advantage is in their experience." The Bulldogs return eight starters on offense (including four offensive linemen) and six on defense. Three of their losses came to double-digit win teams last season, all by seven points or fewer. Included among that group was a 13-1 Houston team, coached by Sumlin and several other staff members that are now with the Aggies. The Bulldogs led the Cougars 34-7 before Houston rallied for a 35-34 win. While the game isn't in Ruston, it's nearby in Shreveport and it'll be the first collegiate game for new Texas A&M starting quarterback Johnny Manziel. With all the newness (quarterback, staff, defense), there's potential for mistakes. And Sonny Dykes knows the principles behind the Air Raid-style offense the Aggies will run because of his time at Texas Tech, which crossed over with Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury's time there as a player. If Louisiana Tech is hitting on all cylinders, it could get interesting.
Why Louisiana Tech might lose: Talent. At the end of the day, while Louisiana Tech has some things working in its favor and there are some quality players on the roster, the Aggies are simply a more talented, athletic group. The Bulldogs' success against Sumlin and staff last year is notable, but the Aggies have a better offensive line with which to work than the Cougars did a year ago, meaning Texas A&M should be able to run the ball and protect Manziel. You can bet Sumlin and co. will have the team ready, because he knows first-hand how dangerous the Bulldogs are. And it's Texas A&M's first game as an official SEC member; you have to believe the Aggies are looking to make an early statement.
3dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
4dEdward Aschoff and Greg Ostendorf