Live underdog Louisiana Tech worth long look


Louisiana Tech might be the nation's best team that isn't in a Bowl Championship Series conference. The No. 23-ranked Bulldogs are 5-0, with road victories against Houston, Illinois and Virginia.

If Sonny Dykes' team pulls an upset over No. 22 Texas A&M tonight in Shreveport, La., it will have an excellent chance to run the table and perhaps get to a BCS bowl.

Louisiana Tech is third in the nation in scoring, averaging 53.2 points. Senior quarterback Colby Cameron has 13 touchdown passes and no interceptions. Dating to last season, he has a 26-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Cameron's favorite target is senior wide receiver Quinton Patton, who has 33 receptions for 523 yards and five touchdowns. The Bulldogs can run the ball, too, with four running backs combining for 19 rushing touchdowns, and each back averaging at least 5.3 yards per carry.

Texas A&M (4-1) was fortunate to win last week at Mississippi, where it rallied from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter for a 30-27 victory. Now the Aggies hit the road for the second time in two weeks.

And they'll be playing short-handed on defense. Senior linebacker Steven Jenkins and sophomore free safety Howard Matthews are suspended for the game, and starting strong safety Steven Campbell is doubtful because of a concussion.

I like Louisiana Tech to pull the upset as an 8½-point underdog. I also recommend a small play on the Bulldogs on the money line at plus-270.

Three more plays for today (home team in CAPS):

■ RUTGERS (-7) over Syracuse - I made Rutgers a 14-point favorite, so there's great line value.

The Scarlet Knights are getting excellent quarterback play from Gary Nova, who has a 10-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. They have an outstanding running back in Jawan Jamison, who has rushed for 601 yards.

Rutgers is ranked second in the nation in rushing defense and fifth in scoring defense, limiting foes to 10.8 points per game. I think it wins by double digits.

■ BOISE STATE (-7) over Fresno State - Dating to 1998, Boise State has a 10-1-1 record against the spread as a single-digit home favorite. The Broncos have dominated Fresno State, winning six straight by an average score of 50-16.

Boise State quarterback Joe Southwick is getting more comfortable in coach Chris Petersen's offense, as evidenced by eight touchdown passes in the past four games. Look for big performances from Southwick and senior running back D.J. Harper.

■ West Virginia (-3½) over TEXAS TECH - Some experts have called this a trap game for West Virginia. But the Mountaineers have the nation's best quarterback in Geno Smith, who has 24 touchdown passes and no interceptions.

I made West Virginia an 11-point favorite, so I obviously think there's great line value with the unbeaten Mountaineers.

Last week: 4-0 against the spread

Season: 20-7

Brian Edwards of VegasInsider.com and BrianEdwardsSports.com is providing college football analysis for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

 

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