RUSTON, La. (KSLA) - The Louisiana Tech football team (5-1, 2-0) will take its five-game winning streak back into Conference play this weekend, hosting league-rival Southern Miss (4-2, 2-0 C-USA) in an early battle for first place in Conference USA’s West Division on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. from Joe Aillet Stadium.
In one of the most-played matchups for both teams, the Bulldogs and Golden Eagles will meet on the gridiron for the 51st time Saturday afternoon, marking the second-most played matchup in C-USA and Tech’s third-most played matchup in football history.
The Bulldogs are coming off an offensive explosion in a 69-21 win over UMass last Saturday. As a team, Tech rushed for a season-best 385 yards – sixth most in a single game in its history.
Following its fifth consecutive win, the Bulldogs received some attention around the country, picking up votes in both the Coaches Poll (6) and the AP Top 25 Poll (1).
Tech enters Saturday winners of five straight games, marking the third time in the last six seasons (2014, 2016) that Tech has produced a five-game winning streak.
With a win this weekend, the Bulldogs will become bowl eligible for the sixth straight season.
Junior RB Justin Henderson continues to be the bell cow in the backfield for the Bulldogs this season. The junior ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns and caught another score in Tech’s win over UMass last Saturday.
Henderson now has eight TD’s over the last three games and a league-high eight rushing scores on the season (tied for eighth nationally). With 478 rushing yards on just 58 carries, he is averaging a league-best 8.4 yards per carry. That average ranks ninth nationally.
Henderson has also been the club’s leader in money plays (plays resulting in a first down or touchdown) through Tech’s first six games. The junior has put up 31 such plays (22 first downs, 9 touchdowns).
Tech senior quarterback J’Mar Smith has thrown 42 touchdown passes for his career - sixth most in program history. In Tech’s win over UMass Smith tossed three TD passes moving him past Terry Bradshaw (39) and Matt Dunigan (40) in the career record books.
Smith also eclipsed 8,000 yards last Saturday (8,103) becoming the fourth QB in Tech history to reach 8,000 yards through the air.
The senior under center for the Bulldogs is averaging 22.3 completions per game – most in Conference USA and 18th-most among national leaders.
The Bulldog offense ranks in the upper echelon in C-USA in scoring offense (1st - 34.0 PPG), rushing offense (4th - 186.0 YPG), total offense (1st - 467.3 YPG), pass offense (2nd - 281.3 YPG) and first downs (1st - 23.8 per game).
Junior cornerback Amik Robertson has the 7th-most passes defended among FBS active career leaders with 38. This season he leads the league and ranks 4th in the nation in TPD per game with 1.8 (11 total).
Against UMass, Robertson secured the third pick six of his career (second this season). He is one of just two active FBS players with three career interceptions returned for touchdowns (Isaiah Rodgers, UMass).
Robertson has not been the only Bulldog with pick-six success in his career, as both Darryl Lewis and L’Jarius Sneed have recorded two in their careers.
Among the 23 active players with multiple pix-sixes in their careers, the Bulldogs have three of them in Robertson (3), Lewis (2) and Sneed (2).
Against UMass, Tech extended its active takeaways steak to 10-consecutive games dating back to 2018. The Bulldogs are just one of six teams with a current streak of at least 10 games with a takeaway.
Mississippi State – 22
Syracuse – 20
Maryland – 18
SMU – 17
Utah – 14
LA Tech - 10