This item originally appeared in the Nov. 6, 2003, issue of The Tech Talk.
By BRET H. MCCORMICK
Associate Sports Editor
Now that the long-awaited showdown with LSU is behind the Bulldogs, they can get back down to business with three conference games remaining in the season.
The first task at hand for Tech (4-5, 2-3 in the Western Athletic Conference) is a matchup against SMU (0-9, 0-5).
"We battled hard," head coach Jack Bicknell said of his team's loss to LSU. "I was proud of the team. We didn't give up; we played the whole 60 minutes. I think that was something to build on."
The Bulldogs look to avenge a devastating 37-34 loss to the Mustangs a year ago in Dallas. In that game, SMU running back Keylon Kincade ran 46 times for 158 yards and two touchdowns.
This year, Kincade is back for more. He is currently the leading rusher in the WAC at 1,044 yards (116 per game).
However, Kincade is just about the only weapon the Mustangs have boasted this season, as second-year head coach Phil Bennett's squad has yet to win a game.
The Mustangs have seen big losses at the hands of Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Boise State and Tulsa. However, they have also lost close games to Baylor, Nevada, UTEP and Fresno State.
SMU is last in the WAC in scoring average (10.6 points per game) and total offense (258.3 yards per game). The Mustangs are also near the bottom in passing offense and rushing offense.
However, the Mustangs boast a strong defense -- at least in comparison to the rest of the WAC. They are second in the conference in total defense, giving up just over 375 yards a game.
With three losses, the Bulldogs have no shot at winning the conference. However, there is still an outside shot at a bowl game. They need a lot of help, but it all starts with winning the final three games.
"We just need to win the next three games," senior quarterback Luke McCown said. "With guys getting knocked out in the WAC, if we win out then we have a good shot of getting into the bowl game. All we have to do is go out and play and put this game behind us and hopefully win the next three games."
To do so, the Bulldogs must shore up a defense that has been torched of late. Tech has given up 37 or more points in the past five games, including over 40 in the last three.
"We are going to try to run the table, three straight," senior strongside linebacker Antonio Crow said.
Offensively, McCown and running back Ryan Moats must continue to shine. Both are making runs at the Tech record books.
McCown needs just 357 passing yards to pass Tim Rattay as Tech's all-time leader in passing yards and just 141 total yards to pass Rattay on the career total offense list.
Moats, despite not starting the first four games of the year, is pushing for the single-season rushing record. He is just 57 yards shy of becoming the seventh back in Tech history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. He also needs 409 yards rushing to break Jason Davis' single-season record of 1,351 yards set in 1991.
"We are just taking each game one at a time," Moats said. "We treat each one the same way and do not take anyone for granted."