FACTS & STATS: Site: Joe Aillet Stadium (30,600) -- Ruston, Louisiana. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: Tulsa 1-4, La Tech 2-2. Away Record: Tulsa 1-4, La Tech 2-3. Neutral Record: Tulsa 0-0, La Tech 0-1. Conference Record: Tulsa 1-5, La Tech 3-3. Series Record: Louisiana Tech leads, 7-2.
GAME NOTES: The Tulsa Golden Hurricane will try to halt their season-long losing streak on Saturday night, as they hit the road to tangle with the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in Conference USA action from Joe Aillet Stadium.
Tulsa was crowned the champions of C-USA last year, but the 2013 season has been anything but a success as it sits at just 2-8 and is tied for last place in the West Division with a 1-5 league record. The Golden Hurricane have dropped four straight games, including a 45-34 setback at Marshall on Nov. 14.
Louisiana Tech was starting to build some momentum after winning three of four from Oct. 5 to Nov. 9, but it slipped up last weekend at Rice, losing 51-24 to fall to 4-6 overall and 3-3 in league play. The Bulldogs will need to win each of their last two games to become bowl eligible for the third straight season, although they were snubbed of a bowl bid last year despite going 9-3.
These newly-formed conference rivals haven't met since 2004, when Louisiana Tech defeated Tulsa, 38-21. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series, 7-2.
The Golden Hurricane have one of the worst offenses in C-USA, both in terms of scoring (21.9 ppg) and yardage (367.0 ypg), although they were able to score 34 points the last time out, which tied their season-high.
Cody Green (1,312 yards, seven TDs, six INTs) has missed the last two games with a knee injury, and with him questionable, Dane Evans could be in line for more work. Evans has been far from efficient, completing just 42.3 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and seven picks, so third-string QB Joseph Calcagni (7-of-16, 49 yards, TD, INT) could be next in line.
Luckily for Tulsa, no matter who lines up under center, he'll have the good fortune of handing the ball off to C-USA's leading rusher, Trey Watts. Watts has run for 1,026 yards and eight touchdowns on 209 carries, and he also has great hands coming out of the backfield, leading the team with 42 receptions.
The inconsistent quarterback play has hindered the potential of Tulsa's receivers, but Jordan James (34 receptions, 427 yards, two TDs), Keevan Lucas (28 receptions, 400 yards, TD) and Thomas Roberson (25 receptions, 327 yards, four TDs) are all in the midst of solid campaigns.
Tulsa's biggest problem this season, as it was in last week's shootout loss, has been the play of its defense. The unit gives up 35.1 points and 427.4 yards per game, and allows opponents to convert third downs 44 percent of the time.
Michael Mudoh (110 tackles) and Shawn Jackson (103 tackles) have both racked up the stops this season, with Jackson adding 14.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks, four interceptions and three fumble recoveries to his outstanding stat line. Darnell Walker and Will Barrow each have a pair of interceptions, and Derrick Alexander creates a strong pass rush with 8.5 TFL and 6.5 sacks.
A year removed from having one of the best offenses in the FBS (51.5 ppg), Louisiana Tech has suffered a sizable regression in 2013, as its 20.6 points per game ranks 12th in the league.
Freshman quarterback Ryan Higgins has gotten the majority of the work under center, but while he has completed nearly 61 percent of his passes for 1,449 yards, he has only tossed five touchdowns paired with nine interceptions. Scotty Young (.525, 653 yards, four TDs, INT) is also worked into the mix.
Kenneth Dixon has been one of the few bright spots on the offense with 917 yards and four touchdowns on 151 carries, but he is listed as questionable for this contest with a knee injury. If he can't go, expect Tevin King (389 yards, TD) and Blake Martin (230 yards, TD) to split the workload.
No Bulldogs receiver has more than 320 yards this season. D.J. Banks has a team-high 30 catches, but no touchdowns.
Although Louisiana Tech's defense has played pretty well (26.1 ppg, 405.6 ypg), last week's performance was a disaster as it surrendered 52 points on the road to Rice.
Daniel Cobb is the unit's best playmaker, racking up 70 tackles, 10.0 TFL, 1.5 sacks, an interception, two forced fumbles and a blocked kick. Adairius Barnes is active in the turnover battle with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries, while IK Enemkpali is a multi-talented defensive lineman with 9.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks, two interceptions, three passes defended and six QB hurries.
While neither team has lived up to expectations this season, the edge in this one has to go to Louisiana Tech playing at home, as its opportunistic defense will create a few big plays against the lackluster Golden Hurricane offense.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana Tech 27, Tulsa 20
Saturday, November 23, 7 p.m. (et)