RUSTON, La. (Sept. 7, 2012) - The long-awaited start to the 2012 football season is finally here as Louisiana Tech will kick off its 2012 campaign at Houston (0-1) in a nationally televised game on CBS Sports Network at 7 p.m. CT.
Tech fans thought the wait through the offseason was long and then their anxiety for the season was heightened even more when school officials postponed what was supposed to be the team's opening game against Texas A&M due to the threat of Hurricane Isaac.
The Bulldogs refocused their efforts over the past week to now facing a Cougar team that rallied back from a 27 point deficit to upend Tech, 35-34, at Joe Aillet Stadium last season. The challenge for Tech is to focus on the program and not on its results against another team.
"[Houston] won 13 games last year," head coach Sonny Dykes said. "We got a chance to play them. We know what kind of players they have got. I think the fact that we have played them and our players know what kind of players they have got; know what kind of team they have got, so we do not have to do a lot of convincing. I think our guys realize that, especially in a first game with a new coaching staff, some strange things happen sometimes. But, I do not think that is indicative of Houston's football team at all."
However, this is a different look Cougar team with a new coaching staff. Gone is Kevin Sumlin (now coincidentally at Texas A&M) and the Cougars promoted Tony Levine to guide the program this season and into the Big East Conference in 2013.
That team was surprised by Texas State during week one as one of the Western Athletic Conference's newest members spoiled Levine's debut with a 30-13 win at Houston's Robertson Stadium.
Now the Cougars will have to face a Louisiana Tech team that is more than ready to play a game after an offseason of accolades and building expectations. Tech has five players listed on seven national award watch lists as the Bulldogs return 16 starters from last season's WAC Championship squad.
That same Houston squad that allowed 444 yards of offense against the Bobcats now has to face a talented and balanced offense from Louisiana Tech as the Bulldogs begin their quest for back-to-back conference titles in the WAC's final year of football.
Conference realignment has been all the talk in college football over the last two years and that has struck close to home to both programs in this week's game with Houston heading to the Big East and Louisiana Tech moving to Conference USA next year. However, that discussion is far from new for these two schools. The last time Louisiana Tech beat the Cougars neither of the two teams conferences survived (at least in football).
Tech upended Houston in 1995, 19-7, when Tech was in the Big West Conference as a football-only member and Houston was in the final year of the disintegrating Southwest Conference. Shortly thereafter, the Big West dropped football and the SWC collapsed.
Surprisingly enough, that 1995 contest was the only time Tech has played at Robertson Stadium, the on-campus home of the Cougars. The 1948 game (the first game of the series overall) was played at Public School Stadium while the 1991 contest was played in the Astrodome. Tech won't return to Robertson when it plays at Houston next fall as the Cougars will move to Reliant Stadium for a year as it rebuilds its stadium.