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Thursday night’s best game: Louisiana Tech at Western Kentucky

This Thursday sees only one game in the college football world, but it will be a huge one in deciding a potential Group of Five sleeper.  Though it may be overshadowed by the opening game of the NFL season, eyes should also be on what should be a thrilling match-up between the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (1-0) and the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (1-0). The Hilltoppers will be coming off a huge 14-12 win on the road against Vanderbilt that saw them struggle offensively but still emerge the victor, whilst the Bulldogs are coming off a 62-15 mauling of Southern. 

This game will feature two of  the most exciting offenses in the country, led by two of the best QB’s in Conference USA.  Western Kentucky will start Brandon Doughty and Louisiana Tech will go with Florida transfer Jeff Driskel, who dazzled in his first game after transferring. Aside from the excellent QB play, this game also features two of the backs in the conference in WKU’s Leon Allen, who had a quiet game last week against Vandy (15 carries for 56 yards), and Tech’s Kenneth Dixon, who had 171 all-purpose yards and two scores on just 11 touches last week.

The path for Louisiana Tech to a potential New Year’s Six bowl features four tough road games against WKU, Kansas State, Mississippi State and Rice.  Should the Bulldogs emerge victorious in three of those games and post a 10-2 or 11-1 record while making a second straight Conference USA Championship Game (and winning it this year), they could very well sneak into the playoff rankings just as Boise State did last season.
The path for the Hilltoppers is a little less brutal than the Bulldogs, but it still features a handful of tough games at Indiana, Rice and LSU, and they host Marshall in Week 13 in what could decide the East Division.  It’s not out of the realm of possibility to see the Hilltoppers going 7-0 heading into their week eight match-up at LSU.  If the Hilltoppers win tonight, and they could manage to go 11-1 in the regular season before making the Conference USA championship, they could play a New Year’s Six bowl.

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