Saturday, December 19, 2015

Louisiana Tech: 2015 New Orleans Bowl Champions

It was quite the career capper for Louisiana Tech's seniors, as the Bulldogs rode a huge second half to a 47-28 New Orleans Bowl win over Arkansas State.
Louisiana Tech jumped out to a big 17-3 lead behind the arm of former Florida Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel and the legs of NCAA record-setting running back Kenneth Dixon. However, Arkansas State came back and tied the game up at 17 by halftime, and the Red Wolves answered the Bulldogs' first touchdown of the second half, as well.
But after that, Louisiana Tech pulled away, thanks in large part to Driskel. He threw for three touchdowns and over 450 yards in a dominating performance, as the Arkansas State secondary had no answer for the Bulldogs' passing attack.
It was a tough ending of the year for the Red Wolves, who went undefeated in Sun Belt play, including an impressive 40-27 win over Appalachian State. Quarterback Fredi Knighton rushed for 40 yards and a touchdown, but he struggled as a passer, completing just half of his passes. The defense just couldn't keep up with that kind of production.
Here are three things we learned from the game.

1. Jeff Driskel got his redemption

Driskel really struggled while at Florida under Will Muschamp, and he ended up transferring to Louisiana Tech. Driskel's decline with the Gators really began in the 2013 Sugar Bowl, when his team lost to Louisville, 33-23, despite coming in heavily favored. This New Orleans Bowl, also at the Superdome, gave him a chance at redemption.
"It's amazing how life works, I get another chance at making a memory at the Sugar Bowl," Driskel said, according to the announcers.
He certainly delivered, with three touchdowns and over 400 yards passing. It was a nice career capper, even if it was unexpected.

2. NCAA record for Kenneth Dixon

Dixon had himself a day, setting the career NCAA rushing and receiving touchdowns record with 87. He also set a New Orleans Bowl record with four touchdowns, and he did it while running out of his jersey number.
Dixon might lose the record to Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who plays Pitt in the Military Bowl, but this was Dixon's day to cherish.

3. Bad experience for the Sun Belt

The Sun Belt got a nice win from Appalachian State over Ohio, but the league had a chance to show that its champion could hang with a simply above average Conference USA team. Instead, Arkansas State, which laid an egg in the New Orleans Bowl after going through the Sun Belt slate unscathed. Bowl games really shouldn't determine how we think of conferences, but they do, and this isn't great for the Sun Belt.
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