Although Louisiana Tech has won 25 football conference championships, the Bulldogs will be playing in a specific conference title game for the first time Saturday.
Louisiana Tech (8-4) will face Marshall (11-1) at 11 a.m. Saturday in Huntington, West Virginia, at 11 a.m. on ESPN2.
Although both teams went 7-1 against C-USA foes, Marshall earned the right to host the game based on having the higher average computer ranking in the four computer rankings the conference uses.
“I think the environment with Marshall at home with the history they have and the record and their winning percentage at home, which I think is 85 percent at home and second in the FBS only to Baylor, is going to make it very difficult,” Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz said.
“I am sure people are going to come out and support the program, and I have had the opportunity to play there a number of times. ... The weather (with rain forecast for Saturday) may have an effect on the game.
“Playing on the road against the crowd noise is going to be very difficult.”
Tech was picked to finish fourth in the West Division, but the team surprised in its first season under Holtz.
“I’m not surprised,” Marshall coach Doc Holliday said when asked about Tech’s turnaround from 2013 (4-8 last season to 8-4 this year). “I think (Holtz has) done a tremendous job wherever he’s been.
“You have a lot of great players in the state of Louisiana. Knowing Skip and (offensive coordinator) Tony (Petersen) and (defensive coordinator) Manny (Diaz) like I do, they’re going to go out and work extremely hard to find players, and they’ve done that.
“They understand it’s a personnel-driven game, and he’s done great job of getting personnel in there to have a chance to play and compete for championships.”
Tech is ranked first in the nation in turnovers gained as well as points off turnovers —but the Bulldogs will face the league’s best offense in Marshall, which leads C-USA in total offense, scoring offense and rushing offense.
Holtz is the first coach to lead two different schools to the C-USA title game. He led East Carolina to back-to-back C-USA championships in 2008-09.
Holliday is the fourth coach to lead his team to back-to-back title games, joining Holtz, UCF’s George O’Leary and Tulsa’s Todd Graham.
The teams have met just one time, on Oct. 9, 1942, when Tech won 26-0 in Ruston.
Both teams will learn of their bowl destinations Sunday.