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Louisiana Tech (0-0) at NC State (0-0)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Saturday, August 31, 12:30 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Carter-Finley Stadium (57,583) -- Raleigh, North Carolina. Television: ACC Network. Home Record: Lousiana Tech 0-0, NC State 0-0. Away Record: Lousiana Tech 0-0, NC State 0-0. Neutral Record: Lousiana Tech 0-0, NC State 0-0. Conference Record: Lousiana Tech 0-0, NC State 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.

GAME NOTES: A pair of head coaches will make their debut with their new schools as the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs kick off their season on the road at Carter-Finley Stadium against the NC State Wolfpack.

Coach Sonny Dykes left Louisiana Tech to take on the same position at California after leading the Bulldogs to a 9-3 finish in 2012. The Bulldogs were left out of the postseason after declining an invitation to the Independence Bowl and being passed on by the Liberty Bowl, which they had not expected. Louisiana Tech hired former East Carolina and South Florida head coach Skip Holtz to guide the rising program into the Conference USA.

NC State elected to make a coaching change even though it went 7-6 and went to a bowl game for the third straight season. Tom O'Brien was fired before the team suffered its 38-24 loss to Vanderbilt in the Music City Bowl and former NIU head coach Dave Doeren was hired shortly after he collected his second consecutive MAC Championship. Doeren compiled a 23-4 record in his two years at NIU and led the mid-major school to a BCS bowl game for the first time in school history.

Louisiana Tech led the FBS in both total offense (577.9 yards per game) and scoring offense (51.5 points per game) in 2012 with Colby Cameron under center. It collected its second straight WAC Championship and Tech set a new single-season program record for total offensive yards with 6,935. The previous record was 6,504 total offensive yards recorded in 1998.

Texas Tech transfer Scotty Young has the potential to be an excellent replacement as he was one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation prior to college. The Bulldogs have to find new leaders at wide receiver also after graduating Quinton Patton and Myles White, who combined for over 2,000 yards in 2012. Senior D.J. Banks (5-9, 185) made 33 catches for 434 yards last season, but other wideouts like Hunter Lee, Andrew Guillot and Paul Turner will need to emerge as playmakers to keep the ball rolling.

The offense has a reliable piece at tailback in sophomore Kenneth Dixon. He was the 35th leading rusher in the FBS as a rookie with 1,194 yards and led the nation with 27 touchdowns, which also established a new WAC record. Dixon gained 6.0 yards per carry despite registering just under 200 attempts.

Only three starters from 2012 are back on the defensive side of the ball for Louisiana Tech, but change in personnel may be a good thing considering the team finished 120th in total defense (526.1 ypg) and 116th in scoring defense (38.5 ppg).

The front line is the most secure point of the defense thanks to Shakell Lucas (6-2, 285), Justin Ellis (6-2, 330) and IK Ememkpali (6-2, 250), who led the team with 7.5 tackles for loss and six sacks a season ago. Junior cornerback Le'Vander Liggins is the only returning starter to the five-man secondary.

NC State also has a big-time passer to replace after Mike Glennon was selected in the third-round of the NFL Draft this past April. Glennon was outstanding as he accounted for 297.5 of the team's 421.2 yards per game (70.6 percent).

Matt Canada has an experienced quarterback in his first year as the team's offensive coordinator with Pete Thomas (6-6, 236) becoming eligible. Thomas sat out 2012, but he was a two-year starter at Colorado State. The pocket passer comes in with 4,269 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.

Thomas will benefit from having a couple of veteran receivers back in the fold in senior Quinton Payton and junior Bryan Underwood. Payton has prototypical size which helped he make 51 grabs for 798 yards and two touchdowns in 2012. Underwood relies more on his speed, which he used on his way to 44 catches, 620 yards and a team-best 10 touchdowns.

Doeren's NIU team surprised the nation last season behind a stellar performance from his duel-threat signal caller. Thomas is not a threat to take off and run, but the Wolfpack have back their top two rushers from a year ago, in sophomore Shadrach Thornton (694 yards, three TDs) and junior Tony Creecy (476 yards, five TDs).

Defensively, NC State was just the eighth best in the ACC in terms of total yards allowed per game (404.7), but placed fourth in points allowed (25.6 ppg) thanks to its aggressive nature. Dave Huxtable took on his second defensive coordinator job in 2012 at Pittsburgh and will begin his third with the Wolfpack this year.

Doeren and Huxtable have to replace six defensive starters, including former first-team All-ACC pick Earl Wolff. The defensive front has some capable pass rushers in Darryl Cato-Bishop (36 tackles, 6.5 sacks) and Art Norman (33 tackles, 5.5 sacks), who should provide constant pressure off the edges.

Thomas didn't post astounding numbers during his first two years at CSU, but he has never had as reliable of an offensive line or as talented receivers as he does now. It is hard to see Louisiana Tech maintaining its potency offensively due to the loss of its key weapons. The Bulldogs are very weak defensively, but have a chance if Thomas plays with confidence and the defense makes some big plays.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: NC State 30, Louisiana Tech 21

08/28 10:41:38 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Half
CAR 10
CLE 3
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
CAR
3:30pm Today
TOR
NYK
4:30pm Today
CLE
MEM
6:00pm Tonight
MIA
BOS
6:00pm Tonight
BRK
DET
6:00pm Tonight
SAC
LAL
6:00pm Tonight
ORL
PHI
6:00pm Tonight
WAS
PHO
7:00pm Tonight
MIN
IND
7:00pm Tonight
OKC
NOP
Final
UVA 76
HARV 27
2nd
BGU 53
FERST 63
 
2nd
ARMY 43
MAINE 48
 
2nd
QUIN 55
ORST 50
 
2nd
CLST 52
USF 51
 
2nd
CARK 32
CCAR 30
 
1st
UWGB 31
ARKLR 27
 
1st
RAD 24
CORN 30
 
1st
UNT 25
CREI 12
 
1st
CAN 19
HC 14
 
1st
USB 17
GHND 20
 
1st
OKST 20
MD 21
 
1st
WINT 28
REIN 19
 
1st
UGST 36
SMISS 21
 
1st
NEOM 30
TXPA 30
 
1st
STLU 14
VERM 15
 
1st
UNCA 26
WCU 16
 
1st
EVAN 36
ALAST 26
 
1st
HART 20
FIU 8
 
1st
VALPO 4
GOSHEN 0
 
3:00pm Today
LIP
PEAY
 
3:00pm Today
DEN
BRY
 
3:00pm Today
MONT
SD
 
3:00pm Today
MTST
TENST
3:00pm Today
SAMF
LAMON
 
3:30pm Today
SCAR
COKR
 
4:00pm Today
HAMP
NARZ
 
4:00pm Today
SDU
SDCHR
 
4:00pm Today
BC
USC
4:30pm Today
NICST
TROY
 
4:30pm Today
BRAD
UCI
 
6:00pm Tonight
UGA
SHU
6:30pm Tonight
ALA
APP
7:00pm Tonight
KSU
NDST
 
7:00pm Tonight
WASU
SJST
9:00pm Tonight
UTEP
ALCOR
 
10:00pm Tonight
SEAT
SACST
 
6:00pm Tonight
DET
COL
6:00pm Tonight
EDM
DAL
7:00pm Tonight
BOS
BUF
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
CAR
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
TOR
9:00pm Tonight
WIN
PHI
Half
NOS 7
ATL 13
 
2nd
HOU 16
BAL 0
 
Half
CAR 10
CLE 3
 
Half
CHI 7
DET 7
 
Half
TAM 3
GBP 10
 
3rd
PIT 10
KAN 6
 
Half
MIA 7
MIN 17
 
3rd
NYJ 10
NEP 7
 
4:05pm Today
STL
NYG
4:25pm Today
OAK
BUF
4:25pm Today
DAL
IND
8:30pm Tonight
ARI
SEA