Louisiana Tech will face Illinois in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Dec. 26.

Louisiana Tech (8-5) lost at Marshall 26-23 on Saturday in the Conference USA title game. The Bulldogs had won seven of their previous eight games.

It’s the first bowl trip for the Illini since 2011. Illinois beat Penn State and Northwestern to close the season at 6-6. The Illini’s defense forced five turnovers in beating the Wildcats 47-33.

This is the second meeting between Illinois and Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs trounced the Illini 52-24 in 2012, coach Tim Beckman’s fourth game at Illinois.

The Bulldogs are led by quarterback Cody Sokol, the Iowa transfer who has thrown 29 TD passes, and running back Kenneth Dixon, who has rushed for 1,236 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Louisiana Tech improved by four wins in its second season under coach Skip Holtz. The Bulldogs lead the nation with 164 points off turnovers.

“I am so proud of the job that coach Holtz and his staff and the players have done this year. We really had some adversity,” Louisiana Tech Athletic Director Tommy McClelland said. “All the feedback so far is that this is a home run for us. ... This is where we wanted to be all along, and we’re there.”

Independence Bowl

SOUTH CAROLINA, MIAMI TO CLASH: South Carolina will face Miami in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 27 in Shreveport.

The Gamecocks started the season as one of the favorites to win the Southeastern Conference but struggled on the way to a 6-6 record, including a 3-5 mark in conference play.

Miami also has a 6-6 record and finished 3-5 in the ACC. The Hurricanes lost three straight games to end the regular season.

It’s the first time Miami has played in the Independence Bowl.