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Tech to play in Independence Bowl

Tickets on sale as Bulldogs await opponent for game

By Jimmy Watson • jimwatson@gannett.com • December 3, 2008 2:00 am

Louisiana Tech fans can now officially begin purchasing their tickets for the Dec. 28 Independence Bowl.

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The Bulldogs have been asked to participate and have accepted an invitation to play in the annual bowl, The Times has learned.

Neither I-Bowl executive director Missy Setters nor Louisiana Tech athletic director and head football coach Derek Dooley can officially comment on the selection until this weekend.

Normally pitting an SEC versus a Big 12 representative, the local bowl isn’t expected to get a qualifier from either conference. With both sides open for at-large entrants, the Bulldogs appear to be the smart choice to help fill Independence Stadium for the ESPN-televised contest.

In just their second season under Dooley’s direction, Tech arrived on the I-Bowl’s radar after becoming bowl eligible with a Nov. 15 win over Utah State. The Bulldogs enhanced their stature with a seventh win against New Mexico State the following weekend.

Had Tech won last weekend against Nevada, it might have been forced to play in one of the WAC-affiliated bowls out west. As it stands, the I-Bowl is getting a 7-5 club that tied for second place in the WAC, which could send its first-place team, Boise State, to a BCS bowl for a third consecutive season.

Who will be the Bulldogs’ opponent has yet to be determined but is expected to come from a pool of 6-6 teams including North Carolina State, Southern Miss, Memphis and Notre Dame.

“We’re trying to stay geographic,” I-Bowl chairman Keith Bergeron said on Monday. “There’s some possibilities in Conference USA. There is a possibility out of the ACC. Notre Dame is out there as a wild card.”

Tech hasn’t played in a bowl game since winning the 2001 WAC title in its inaugural season in the league. The Bulldogs lost 49-24 to Clemson in the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, after also going 7-5 in the 2001 regular season.

Tech last played in the I-Bowl in 1990 and came out with a 34-34 tie with Maryland in front of more than 48,000 fans. Despite going 9-2 in 1997, 8-3 in 1999 and 7-4 in 2005, the Bulldogs did not receive a bowl invitation.

To purchase tickets directly from Tech, fans can call (318) 257-3631, (318) 257-3632 or log onto www.latechsports.com.

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