Tonight's sold-out Texas Bowl features battle of explosive offenses
HOUSTON - Offensive fireworks are expected tonight as contrasting styles of moving the football meet on the gridiron at NRG Stadium for the now sold-out 10th-annual AdvoCare Texas Bowl.
No. 20 LSU and breakout star running back Leonard Fournette will collide with Texas Tech and their top-rated passing offense. Bowl officials announced that tickets for the the 2015 AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl officially sold out early Tuesday evening ahead of the game. It’s the second time since the bowl was established that single-game tickets have sold out, according to officials.
Kickoff tonight is scheduled for 8 p.m. with the game airing on ESPN. You can also catch the game on the LSU Sports Radio Network (98.1 FM in the Capital Area) and in the Geaux Zone on LSUSports.net.
It’s the 16th consecutive bowl appearance for the Tigers, a school record. They closed their regular season campaign at 8-3 overall with a 19-7 win over Texas A&M on Nov. 28. Texas Tech enters the contest with a 7-5 overall record.
While it’s been more than 60 years since the Tigers met the Red Raiders, fans and coaching staff are looking closely at one commonality between the squads in the form of the Arkansas Razorbacks, the one common opponent shared by the two teams this season. LSU fell to Arkansas 31-14 at home back in mid-November, while Texas Tech cruised to a mid-September 35-24 win.
“I'm not big on comparables when you talk about games, particularly one that was in September,” Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said of the one common opponent between the two teams. “So much happens over a season with injuries and players getting better, players not playing as well at certain times. So we don't take much away from that.”
LSU coach Les Miles says that despite the dominance of their run game, they’ll need to maintain a balanced offense to roll to victory over the Red Raiders.
“The key is being balanced certainly,” Miles said. “We’ve spent additional time working on the passing game (in bowl practice). It seems to have paid dividends to have a couple extra practices going into game week, and we're kind of looking forward to seeing how it looks Tuesday night.”
As with every game this season, many eyes will be on the Tigers’ nation leading rusher, Leonard Fournette, who has averaged a nation’s best 158.3 yards per game, breaking the LSU single-season rushing record this year with 1,741 yards. He’s one touchdown away from breaking Brandon Toefield’s touchdowns in season record of 19. Texas Tech coach Kingsbury is aware of the threat.
“I think he's as good a back as I've seen in the last ten years,” Kingsbury said. “He could be Sunday ready already, I know he’s got to wait another year, but he's that type of talent. We've had our struggles against the run, so we'll have to play our best game. We know he's going to get his yards. There is no doubt about it. He's done that against everybody. We just have to try to slow him down enough to give ourselves a chance.”
On the other side of the equation, LSU’s defense must be prepared for an opposing offense that can quickly catch on fire.
“They are as talented and as explosive an offense that you will find in college football,” Miles said. “They can beat you through the air or on the ground. They have a quarterback who threw for over 4,200 yards and a running back with over 1,400 yards rushing. It’s going to be a challenge for us to try to slow them down.”
Miles wrapped up some of his pre-game comments by highlighting the importance of tonight’s game as it pertains to boosting the Tigers momentum coming into the 2016 season as many aspects of this year’s campaign were disappointing.
“You want to finish with a very positive experience,” said Miles. “You want to go into the off-season with -- each program has goals. It's a great way to spawn some very significant goals with a victory in a late-in-the-year bowl game.”