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