It's an historic week for Louisiana's collegiate football teams. Specifically, it's a memorable one for the state's Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
For the first time in recent history -- and at least the first since the NCAA's divisional reclassification in the early 1980s -- the state has four teams receiving votes in a national major college football poll.
In the USA Today coaches' poll released this week, LSU and Louisiana Tech are both in the Top 25 and both UL Lafayette and UL Monroe are receiving votes.
LSU (5-1) slipped from third to eighth in the coaches' poll following its 14-6 loss at Florida, with the Tigers the highest-ranked team with a loss. Tech, one of 16 teams nationally still unbeaten, is ranked 24th in the poll after moving in for the first time this season.
UL Lafayette received six votes in the poll, which in effect ties for 37th in the rankings, while ULM picked up three votes and in effect stands 41st in the poll.
That means four of the state's five FBS teams are listed. Ironically, the only one not ranked, winless Tulane, lost to both ULM and UL Lafayette the previous two weeks.
Louisiana's four teams ranks second only to the five teams from Texas mentioned in the poll -- Texas, Texas A&M, TCU, Baylor and Texas Tech -- with no other state having more than three teams listed.
Of the nation's 16 unbeaten FBS teams, 13 are in the poll, with Tech the lowest-ranked in the Top 25. Ohio (6-0) of the Mid-American Conference is receiving votes, and Ohio State (5-0) is ineligible for coaches' poll consideration this year because of the Buckeyes' probation.
The other unbeaten is Texas-San Antonio (5-0), in its first year in the FBS but ineligible for a postseason bowl as a transitional program. Besides, UTSA's schedule this year has included South Alabama, Texas A&M-Commerce, Georgia State, Northwestern Oklahoma and New Mexico State, so that record isn't really relevant.
BIGGEST TEST: It's barely October, but Louisiana Tech is already on the verge of a perfect season.
The Bulldogs rolled past UNLV 58-31 last Saturday, improving its per-game average to 53.2 points per game this season and improving to 5-0. Now, Tech faces its toughest task of the season with Texas A&M coming to Shreveport to face the 'Dogs at Independence Stadium, with that game rescheduled this week after an Aug. 30 Hurricane Isaac postponement.
If the Bulldogs can pull off a win over the Aggies -- and the betting line lists A&M as only a seven-point favorite -- the rest of Tech's schedule is a list of six virtual walkovers in the depleted Western Athletic Conference.
After this Saturday's 8 p.m. ESPNU battle, Tech hosts Idaho (1-5), travels to New Mexico State (1-5), hosts UTSA (5-0, but see above), travels to Texas State (2-3), hosts Utah State (4-2) and travels to San Jose State (4-1, but the four wins are over UC Davis, Colorado State, San Diego State and Navy). The last two could be at least competitive, but right now the Bulldogs would be a double-digit favorite over all six and a lot more over the next four.
More importantly, if Tech wins in Shreveport Saturday, the Bulldogs are suddenly and shockingly in the hunt for a BCS bowl.
BCS rules state that the champion of one of the non-automatic qualifying leagues (Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, Sun Belt and the WAC) will earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl if it is ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS standings, OR if it is in the top 16 and its ranking is higher than a champion of an automatic qualifying league. That could easily happen, since no Big Ten team is currently ranked in either the coaches poll or the Harris Interactive poll, and Tech will surely rank higher in the poll than whoever eventually wins the Big Ten if the 'Dogs run the table.
One other thing has to happen, though. Boise State, which is ahead of Tech in the Harris and coaches' polls, has to pick up another loss to allow the 'Dogs to leapfrog them.
The Harris and coaches polls make up two-thirds of the BCS' numerical calculation. The third, and one that will hurt Tech severely, is the computer rankings which take strength of schedule into account. The amount that the weak WAC and relatively weak rest of Tech's schedule won't be known until the first BCS ranking, which comes out next Monday.
It's ironic that Saturday's rescheduled game against A&M comes in the week when Tech is nationally ranked for the first time since 1999.
"The timing (the national ranking) is unusual in the way that it worked out," said Tech coach Sonny Dykes, "but it just worked out that way. It does give us a little credibility, but we want to do that on a consistent basis."
BY THE WAY: If you're a college football fan looking for some fun, go to www.harrisinteractive.com/bcspoll to see the list of 115 voters on the Harris Interactive poll -- which makes up one-third of the BCS formula.
Check out some of the people who are voting as part of the system to determine the participants in the national title game and the other BCS polls. Some of them haven't been involved in college football for a couple of decades, but their vote could still determine who plays in January's major bowls.
BACK TO EARTH: One week ago, Southern's Jaguars were riding a powerful wave of momentum, with two straight wins following the firing of coach Stump Mitchell and the elevating of interim coach Dawson Odums.
On Saturday, the Jags came back to earth, falling 20-17 to an equally-struggling Alcorn State team and showing signs of the struggles that hampered SU in its first two games.
An inconsistent offense -- 42 yards rushing against a team that had allowed 255 per game this year -- and a continually anemic kicking game -- a field goal and a PAT were blocked, with those four points enough to tip the game in their favor -- cost SU what could have been a key SWAC win.
Now, Southern is 1-2 in the league and has to win six in a row to reach the SWAC title game.
BIG ONE AT LC: Most fans don't pay much attention to Division III football, but one of the country's top D-III games this year will take place in Pineville this Saturday.
Louisiana College is ranked No. 21 in the D3Football.com poll, ranked in the top 25 for the fourth straight week, and will host Mary Hardin-Baylor at 11 a.m. Saturday at Wildcat Field. MH-B, a perennial D-III power and the favorite to win the American Southwest Conference title again this year, is ranked No. 2 in that poll and is averaging over 48 points per game.
The last time the teams met in Pineville was in 2010, when MH-B took a 42-38 victory thanks to a final-play end-zone interception. The winner of Saturday's game will control its own destiny in the ASC and take a major step toward the postseason playoffs.
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