JACKSONVILLE, Ala. — Louisiana Tech will wrap up its disappointing football season at Jacksonville State today with nothing to play for but pride.
The Bulldogs (3-8, 2-5) are not going bowling so the question remains what the motivation is when facing an upstart Gamecocks team (7-3, 5-1), long an FCS power now ending their first season in FBS (and Conference USA) hoping for a bowl opportunity in December.
Ending his second season as Tech’s coach, Sonny Cumbie said it’s all about ending the season on a positive.
“It would be a huge shot in the arm,” said Cumbie. “Closing out the season with five games and four of the five games were pretty much one-possession games. Last week the final score (in a 42-27 loss to Sam Houston) wasn’t indicative of what it was, but we all saw how we got to that point.
“It would be a big shot in the arms in terms of momentum going into the winter (and signing day next month) and also into the spring for our football program.”
Six of Tech’s eight losses have basically been one-score games that came down to the final five minutes of play with the Bulldogs continuously coming up just short. And today it won’t get any easier against a Jacksonville State team that is making an impressive step up from its background in Division II, then FCS over the past three decades.
“To win on the road against a 7-3 Jacksonville State team that is very good would be a positive,” said Cumbie Tuesday, during his weekly press conference. “Rich Rodriguez has done a great job there. They play very physical. It would be a huge shot in the arm for our football program and our players.”
The game kicks at 1 p.m. and can be heard on the LA Tech Sports Network with Malcolm Butler (PxP) and Teddy Allen (Color) providing a call of the game.
The matchup between Louisiana Tech and Jacksonville State will be the second contest between the programs. The Bulldogs lead the series 1-0, blowing out the Gamecocks 39-0 in the only meeting on Sept. 29, 1939 in Ruston.
The 84-year drought between games played in the series is the second-longest of any team’s schedule this season. Saturday’s matchup is also the earliest season finale for Tech since 1989. The Bulldogs are 63-53-4 all-time in regular season finales.
The Gamecocks enter the contest coming off a bye week after falling at South Carolina 38-28 their last time out on Nov. 4.
The Gamecocks’ high-powered rushing attack is their offensive identity, with 27 consecutive games of at least 100 yards rushing. Jax State ranks sixth nationally in rushing, averaging 218 yards a contest. Running back Malik Jackson is the leading rusher with 116 attempts for 624 yards and four touchdowns this season.
Quarterback Zion Webb is also an integral part of the ground game, with 525 yards and four touchdowns on 98 carries. Running back Ron Wiggins has also been a critical component, with 54 attempts for 305 yards and four touchdowns in just five games played. Wiggins rushed for 88 yards in the loss at South Carolina.