Tech finalizes football schedule

RUSTON — Louisiana Tech has finalized its 2012 non-conference schedule with the addition of Texas A&M to the slate, a game set for Aug. 30 at Shreveport’s Independence Stadium.

Kickoff time for the game is to be determined and subject to television broadcast times.

Louisiana Tech will host Texas A&M at its “home away from home” at Independence Stadium, marking the second time in five years Tech has hosted a Southeastern Conference opponent. Tech is 46-22-3 overall at Independence Stadium, last playing in 2010 with a 20-6 win over Grambling State, the first career victory as a head coach for Sonny Dykes. The Bulldogs have won six of their last seven games in Shreveport, including a 17-10 win over Northern Illinois in the 2008 Independence Bowl.

The 2012 game with Texas A&M is part of a home-and-home scheduling agreement with Louisiana Tech returning the game in College Station, Texas, in 2016. The last time the Bulldogs hosted a SEC team, Tech defeated Mississippi State 22-16 in the 2008 season opener. Texas A&M is entering the SEC beginning with the 2012 football season.

“Playing in Shreveport is very important for conference realignment and growing our fan base,” Teche Athletics Director Bruce Van De Velde said in a news release. “We aspire to be Northern Louisiana’s flagship university, and it is important to expand our footprint in the Shreveport-Bossier area. With the thousands of Bulldog fans and alumni in Shreveport-Bossier and east Texas, we expect a great crowd to turn out to kick off the 2012 season.”

Tech defeated an SEC opponent during the 2011 season, a 27-7 win at Ole Miss, and almost captured two straight wins over the league before falling in overtime at Mississippi State earlier in the year.

The Aggies will replace a previously announced Sept. 1 game against Lamar on Tech’s 2012 schedule.

Louisiana Tech’s non-conference schedule is now set beginning with the Aug. 30 game. Playing that game on a Thursday evening allows the Bulldogs an extra two days to prepare for Tech’s Sept. 8 game at Houston. The Cougars slipped by the Bulldogs last season in Ruston, 35-34.

On Sept. 15 Tech will host Conference USA foe Rice at Joe Aillet Stadium, renewing a rivalry that has been dormant since 2004.

Following Tech’s back-to-back games against C-USA opponents, the Bulldogs will play at Illinois on Sept. 22 against an Illini team that lost their last seven games of the 2011 season. Illinois will open the 2012 campaign with new coach Tim Beckman, who joins UI after guiding Toledo to back-to-back bowl appearances.

Louisiana Tech then will face Virginia for the first time in school history as the two teams meet in Charlottesville, Va., on Sept. 29. It will be the first time in 10 years that Tech will face an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent.

The Bulldogs non-conference schedule rounds out on Oct. 6 as Tech hosts UNLV. The two teams only have met twice before with both games decided by one possession.

The Western Athletic Conference is expected to announce the full conference schedule in early March. Louisiana Tech will have home games against Utah State, Idaho and UTSA with road games at New Mexico State, San Jose State and Texas State.

The Bulldogs, who won seven consecutive games to close out the 2011 regular season and claim a WAC title, are hoping to repeat the conference title and return to a prominent bowl game this fall. Tech garnered national attention last season with its winning streak and the close loss to nationally ranked TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl.

Louisiana Tech will return 16 starters for the 2012 campaign, including Ryan Allen, the 2011 Ray Guy Award winner (nation’s best punter) and the only player from a non-automatic qualifying school to win a national award last season.

For coverage of Bulldog Football, follow @LATechPWalsh on Twitter or visit LATechSports.com.

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