Illinois (6-6) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-5), Heart of Dallas Bowl
Friday, 1 p.m. Eastern on ESPN
Cotton Bowl, Dallas
Louisiana Tech (-6). Line provided by bovada.lv
Louisiana Tech 1-0
Last Year’s Heart of Dallas Bowl:
North Texas 36, UNLV 14, Jan. 1, 2014
Louisiana Tech cruised through Conference USA play, with the exception of a head-scratching loss to Old Dominion, before falling to Marshall in the championship. Two of its other losses came to then-No. 4 Oklahoma and then-No. 5 Auburn. Illinois struggled in Big Ten play, but got the 2 needed wins to end the season to become bowl-eligible.
The Illini rolled with quarterback Reilly O’Toole the final 2 games over regular starter Wes Lunt and the senior responded, throwing for 3 scores and running for 147 yards in a win over Northwestern in the finale. But Illinois didn’t have much to cheer about most of the year. The defense ranks among the worst in the FBS in points (33.9) and yards (464) per game allowed.
Louisiana Tech likes the sound of the that. QB Cody Sokol (3,189 passing yards, 29 touchdowns) and running back Kenneth Dixon (1,236 yards, 21 TDs) spark the high-scoring Bulldog offense, which averages 37.5 ppg. This a team which scored 76 and 59 points in games in November alone.
Illinois does not have the offensive firepower to go score-for-score with Louisiana Tech. And upon further inspection, Illinois doesn’t have the defense to slow the Bulldogs either. Score one for the little guys as La. Tech takes down one of the Power 5 big boys.