Western Kentucky will face Conference USA rival Rice on Saturday

Western Kentucky returns to conference play this week, as the Hilltoppers travel to Houston, Tex., to Rice on Saturday

Following a performance that saw Western Kentucky dominate all phases of the game, cruising past non-conference foe Miami of Ohio 56-14 on Saturday, the Hilltoppers return to league play this weekend when they travel to Houston, Tex., to face the Rice Owls.

"Now we're moving on to the main gist of the season, which is our conference play," WKU head coach Jeff Brohm said on Monday afternoon. "In our opinion its going to be tough every week."

Rice (2-2, 1-0) is looking to rebound following a difficult 70-17 thumping at No.5 Baylor.  Chosen to finish second in the Conference USA West Division, the Owls already own a 38-24 victory against North Texas to start league play undefeated.

"They play extremely hard every week," said Brohm. "They are very well coached. Defensively, they are going to challenge things. Their effort is really the main thing they are good at. On offense, they are going to spread you out. The quarterback can run around and make plays. We are just going to have to do what we do well. On defense, not give up big plays. Be good in special teams. We have to be solid in all three segments in order to win.”

The Hilltoppers also own a league victory, defeating West Division favorite Louisana Tech 41-38 in week two of the season.

“We looked at them a little bit yesterday, but they should be a tough, Texas opponent and another conference game," said junior center Max Halpin. "We’re getting to the meat of our conference schedule so it would be good to pull out a W this week and start strong.”

Facing the opportunity to begin conference play at 2-0, and improve to 4-1 overall, is a notable improvement over last season's 0-3 start to league play.

“I feel good about the progress we’ve made. Each week is a different week, and you try to improve on the things you screwed up and didn’t do well. I think we’ve done that. I think we’ve addressed that. Now, we’ve got to continue to be the hungriest team and to work extremely hard and realize, in order to win from here on out, it’s going to be a four-quarter battle. We have to do all the small things. We’ve got to have a great week of practice in order to find a way to win this one.”

Saturday's contest is slated to kickoff at 2:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Net.

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