The Bulldogs have made their way out to Hawaii for the upcoming SoFi Hawaii Bowl. It’s Tech’s fifth consecutive bowl appearance. Skip Holtz loves to talk about winning four straight bowl games; to the point where some fans seem almost annoyed by him harping on that statistic.
So I thought, “Hey, let’s take a look back at each of Tech’s bowl appearances. It could be interesting to learn about the previous games.” And maybe we’ll get some insight into how truly special it is for Tech to be in 5 straight bowl games (and win four straight!).
Last night, the Team-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named from Birmingham won their FIRST bowl game. Like, the first one they’ve won. Ever. So keep that in mind. Would we like some Conference USA titles? Absolutely. Should we be disappointed by bowl appearances and wins? Absolutely not. At least that’s my take on it.
So without further ado, here’s a look at each of Tech’s eleven bowl appearances (so far).
1977 Independence Bowl
Louisiana Tech 24- Louisville 14
The Game: On December 17, 1977, Louisiana Tech played in its first ever bowl game as a Division 1 school. Sure, we all remember the victory over Akron in the 1969 Grantland Rice Bowl. But Tech’s technical first bowl game by modern standards was the 1977 Independence Bowl against UL (the really actually real one, not the usurpers down in Cajuntown). The Bulldogs fell behind 7-0 early, after Louisville’s Kevin Miller returned a punt 60 yards to the house. However, the Dogs offense proceeded to put up 24 straight points, led by Keith Thibodeaux’s 287 passing yards. Louisville’s offense sort of sucked for most of the game, and they just couldn’t catch up with Tech, despite putting up a massive 61 yards passing and 100 yards rushing.
gtpdd’s Player of the Game: Keith Thibodeaux, whose 2 TDs and 287 yards passing led the Dogs to victory.
Random Tidbit: Tech got $75,000 for winning this game, the equivalent of $317,685 today.
1978 Independence Bowl
Louisiana Tech 13- East Carolina 35
The Game: Tech’s second-ever bowl game did not go so well. In fact, the ECU Pirates straight up jocked on the Dogs. This was a classic Tech death scenario, to be honest. The Bulldogs turned the ball over SEVEN times en route to a blowout. The Pirates rushed the ball SIXTY-SEVEN times for 278 yards. Tech… well Tech didn’t want to run the ball… 33 attempts for 12 yards. Yeah, that’s not winning football.
gtpdd’s Player of the Game: Jessie Clark, who ran the ball 6 times for 28 yards, even though the team total was 12 yards.
Random Factoid: Freaking John Wayne was at the game…?!?! Apparently the Independence Bowl gives a “Spirit of Independence” award “bestowed upon outstanding American citizens, or organizations, which symbolize the spirit of freedom and independence on which our country was founded.” In 1978, they gave the award to John Wayne. Upon receiving the award, he reportedly said “You may find many a man more worthy to honor, but you’ll never find one so grateful.” It was one of Wayne’s last public appearances before his death in 1979.
1990 Independence Bowl
Louisiana Tech 34- Maryland 34
The Game: Wait, what? Tie? What is this, soccer?! After the NCAA reclassified Division 1 into 1-A (now FBS) and 1-AA (FCS), Tech was not eligible for bowl games for a few years. In just their third year in what is now the Bowl Subdivision, Tech qualified for the Independence Bowl again. The game seems like it was a pretty good one in front of 48,000 fans in Shreveport. Maryland outgained Tech 404 to 306, but needed a 14-6 margin in the fourth quarter to force a game-tying field goal attempt by Tech kicker Chris Boniol (father of current Tech commit Garin Boniol) at the gun.
gtpdd’s Player of the Game: Chris Boniol, who made all 6 PAT and Field Goal attempts he had in the game. Maryland’s kicker, Dan DeArmas, missed a PAT that ended up giving Tech the tie. Boniol went on to play in the NFL for the Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys. Here’s Brent Musburger on the call of the game-tying field goal:
Random Tidbit: I’ve got a twofer for y’all. 1) Baylor was invited to the game before the last game of their season, but they said no because they hoped they’d beat Texas and go to the Cotton Bowl. But they lost to Texas, and had to stay home during Bowl season. 2) I own a player-issued jacket from this game. I guess a former player didn’t fit into it anymore and sold it on eBay. Shout out to him!
2001 Humanitarian Bowl
Louisiana Tech 24- Clemson 49
The Game: Despite being bowl eligible in four seasons between the 1990 Independence Bowl and the 2001 Humanitarian Bowl, the Bulldogs didn’t get any postseason berths. In 2001, the Dogs won the WAC Championship in their first year as a conference member. Their reward? Go to sunny and beautiful Boise, Idaho for the Humanitarian Bowl (now known as the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl) to play Clemson. According to the game story from USA Today, four inches of snow fell from the morning until the start of the third quarter. The game did not go so well. Tech moved the ball effectively, but couldn’t get into the endzone. It was only 14-10 at half in favor of the Tigers, but Tech QB Luke McCown threw back-to-back INTs in the third quarter that ultimately led to Tech’s death. Clemson put up 28 points in the third, effectively ending the game.
gtpdd’s Player of the Game: Wide Receiver Delwyn Daigre, who caught ten passes for 178 yards and a TD. Here’s the best play of the game for Tech:
Damn, that blue field is awful.
Random Tidbit: Tech’s running back that day was Joe Smith. Following his collegiate career, Smith spent two years with the Jaguars (with fellow Tech alum Josh Scobee), and then went to the Tennessee Titans. The Titans allocated Smith to the Rhein Fire of the NFL Europa, which was apparently a thing. Smith ended up coming back to North America, where he helped lead the BC Lions to a Grey Cup championship in 2006.
2008 Independence Bowl
Louisiana Tech 17- Northern Illinois 10
The Game: After another long hiatus from bowl season, Tech won 5 of their last 7 games to end up at 7-5 on the year. The team earned a trip over to Shreveport to face the Northern Illinois Huskies in the Independence Bowl. The game was honestly pretty bland. Ross Jenkins, Tech’s QB, was 12 of 27 for 144 yards. Running Back Daniel Porter ran for 78 yards on 18 carries, and added a score. The best thing about this game was that Tech’s 5’6″ electrifying WR and kickoff specialist Philip Livas had a 97 yard kick return touchdown in the first quarter. Oh, and that Tech won its first bowl since 1977.
gtpdd’s Player of the Game: Philip Livas, whose jersey I still own to this day. Here’s his kick off return TD. The head fake/juke at the 9 second mark is a thing of beauty:
Random Factoid: Prior to meeting in the 2008 Independence Bowl, Tech and NIU were members of the Big West Conference (until the mid 90s when Tech went Independent). The Dogs hold a 6-1 advantage all-time against the Huskies.
2011 Poinsettia Bowl
Louisiana Tech 24- TCU 31
The Game: Tech honestly dominated the first half, outgaining #18 TCU 288 to 139. Despite that defensive performance, the Dogs had two turnovers that killed them by allowing the Horned Frogs to keep the score tied at halftime, 10-10. The second half was a back-and-forth affair, with Tech taking a 24-17 lead into the fourth quarter. TCU marched down the field on a drive that ate up 9:21 of the clock and tied the game up, then forced Tech to punt. With all of their momentum pretty much gone, the tired Bulldog defense gave up a quick score to give the Frogs a 31-24 lead that would end up the final score of the game.
gtpdd’s Player of the Game: The donors that paid for the Band of Pride to go on the trip to San Diego. I’ll never forget the Battle of the Bands we did on the freaking USS Midway. Also, SERIOUS shout out to Jeremy Scott for his dance moves in this video (in which I make an appearance at 1:40ish):
Random Tidbit: Future HC Skip Holtz probably got a good look at his future team, because his dad Lou provided color commentary for the game.
2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl
Louisiana Tech 35- Illinois 18
The Game: North Texas took on UNLV in the 2014–wait, wrong 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl. Yep, that’s right, there were two of them. After the 2013 season, the HoD Bowl was played in January 2014. After the 2014 season, the HoD Bowl was in December. So anyway, in the game we actually care about, Tech led the entire time. Illinois outgained the Dogs by almost 100 yards, and possessed the ball for an extra ten minutes. That didn’t matter, though, because the Dogs were scoring quick touchdowns. Kenneth Dixon had an 80 yard reception for a TD, and Xavier Woods added a nice 69 yard INT return touchdown on the way to Tech’s first bowl victory since 2008.
gtpdd’s Player of the Game: Houston MF Bates, who came to Tech as a RS Senior grad transfer from Illinois and put up 4.5 sacks against his former team. Of the performance, Skip Holtz said “[he] was absolutely awesome.” His former coach Tim Beckman said, “I’m proud of him. I mean what else can you really say?”
Random Tidbit: Kenneth Dixon broke Tech’s all-time rushing record previously owned by Daniel Porter in this game (Porter’s mark was 3,352 yards, Dixon’s record ended up being 4,483 yards). Time to go watch KD highlights and crye.
2015 New Orleans Bowl
Louisiana Tech 47- Arkansas State 28
The Game: Following Tech’s victory in the 2014 HoD Bowl, HC Skip Holtz led the Dogs to their first back-to-back bowl appearance since the 1978 season. It was Kenneth Dixon’s last game as a Bulldog, and boy did he put on an absolute show. The game started out with a bang for Tech, as the Dogs got out to a 17-3 lead. They squandered that lead and went into halftime tied 17 all, however. In the second half, the Bulldogs could not be stopped. Arkansas State ended up giving up 5 plays of 45 yards or more in the game as Tech racked up 687 yards and 47 points. Dixon ended the game with 102 yards rushing, 113 yards receiving, 4 total touchdowns, and a new jersey number (because his usual #28 literally came off due to his shifty and elusive nature). Bulldog QB Jeff Driskel threw for 458 yards and 3 TDs, while Trent Taylor had 10 catches for 149 yards. It was the first time in the FBS era that Tech won two straight bowl games.
gtpdd’s Player of the Game: This game was quintessential Kenneth Dixon. His performance on the field was awe-inspiring. He made catches that running backs simply don’t make. He juked guys so hard they probably pissed themselves. That’s a weird thing to say, but it’s probably true. He literally had to change his jersey number during the game! Kenneth Dixon was an absolute joy to watch, and this game was no exception to that rule. Here’s a short video of him 1) losing his jersey number and 2) breaking the all-time NCAA touchdown record:
Random Tidbit: I love Kenneth Dixon
2016 Armed Forces Bowl
Louisiana Tech 48- Navy 45
The Game: After winning back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history, Tech figured “hey, why not make it three!” The Bulldogs faced a tough Navy team who was (technically) ranked #25 in the nation, although they lost to Army after the final rankings came out. This game was truly what bowl season should be: evenly matched teams in a fun exhibition where both teams are equally invested in winning. The largest lead of the night–ten points–lasted all of 29 seconds before Navy put up a touchdown to bring the score back within three. In total, Ryan Higgins passed for 409 yards and 4 touchdowns. Trent Taylor and Carlos Henderson were both ridiculous, with Trent catching 12 passes for 233 yards and two scores and Carlos adding 10 for 129 and two scores. In the end, the Bulldogs held the option-based Midshipmen to 45, and the pass-happy Tech offense put up 48. Jonathan Barnes nailed a field goal at the gun to secure the victory.
gtpdd’s Player of the Game: Trent Taylor. My dude, save some catches for the rest of us! Side note: I hope one day to be as happy as Trent was after Barnes’s final kick went through the uprights:
Random Tidbit: Look, I don’t want to say I’m proud of this. But I feel like I have to share.
So Navy–rightfully so–has a lot of fans all over the country. My friends and I were seated right behind a dad and his kid who were Navy fans from the DFW area, so they came out to support the Midshipmen that night. We chatted with the Dad (and kid) prior to the game, and they were pretty nice. But man, this kid–about 12 years old–was right in that prime “constantly talking about stuff he has no idea about” phase. So he kept turning around and telling me things during the game.
At one point, Tech nearly fumbled a kickoff near the goal line (watching it live, it looked like he fumbled, but it was overturned on replay). Lil’ Navy Boye was very excited about the initial ruling. He turned around, put his finger in my face, and said: “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA YOU SUCK!!”
But when the call was overturned, I did not return the favor. No, my friends, I am an adult. I just made snarky comments (loud enough for him to hear) for the rest of the game.
I did something similar at an Akron Rubber Ducks game in 2014 (where Bryce Harper strike out and then hit three no doubt dingers during his injury rehab stint with the Harrisburg Senators).
Anyway, I don’t remember what my snarky comments were, but just know that I dunked on a 12 year old Navy fan over and over again for over two hours. And it was great.
2017 Frisco Bowl
Louisiana Tech 51- SMU 10
The Game: The 2017 Bulldogs seemed to take a step back on the field, as they had to win their last two games to even be bowl eligible. At the end of the day, they won their games and qualified for the inaugural DXL Frisco Bowl in Frisco, Texas. Making matters more fun, the Dogs’ opponent, SMU, lost their entire coaching staff when Arkansas poached Chad Morris to be its next leader. SMU hired a replacement coach that’s familiar to Tech fans: Sonny “Loads Up On Seniors And Takes the First Train to Berkeley, California” Dykes. Weird nickname, but I’ll allow it. I haven’t talked about the game yet, because there’s truly not much to talk about. Tech whooped SMU in every phase of the game. It wasn’t even close. Let’s take a look at my reactions in real time courtesy of my snapchat:
gtpdd’s Player of the Game: Amik Robertson, whose 45 yard INT return for a touchdown on SMU’s first series really set the tone for the game.
Random Tidbit: The game was the fifth meeting between Tech and SMU, who were in the same division of the WAC back when Tech joined it in 2001. Tech leads the all-time series 4-1 after the Frisco Bowl trouncing.
2018 Hawaii Bowl
Louisiana Tech vs. Hawaii
I can’t wait for this game. Not only because Tech stunk up both of their previous games and I’d like to get that taste out of my mouth, but also because Tech is great in Bowl games under Skip Holtz.
Look, we all want to win C-USA titles. But before Skip came around, Tech had been in 6 bowl games in 27 seasons of eligibility (1977-78 and 1988-2012). Since then, we’ve been in 5 in 6 seasons. Prior to Skip’s arrival, Tech was 2-3-1 in bowl games. Now, we’re 6-3-1. I’m not saying Skip should say “Double your score! *clap* *clap* *clap clap*” to all of Tech’s previous coaches from 1977 to 2012, but… You know what, no. I am saying that. Get you some, Skip!
As for the actual game against Hawaii, well, we’ll be previewing that one on Friday. For now, head on over to the Contest page to get your picks in for the last #gtpddContest of the season!