WKU Insider previews Saturday's game between the Hilltoppers and Middle Tennessee

WKU Insider previews Saturday's game between the Hilltoppers and Middle Tennessee

Date: Oct. 10, 2015
Game Time: 11:00 a.m.
Location: Houchens-Smith Stadium, Bowling Green, Ky.
Television: FOX Sports Net
  Play by Play: Brendan Burke
  Analyst: Ben Leber
 Sideline: Christian Steckel

About the Hilltoppers and Blue Raiders:

  • WKU will be seeking to move to 3-0 in conference play for the first time in the FBS era and first since 2005 when WKU began Gateway play 4-1. A 5-1 start would also be WKU’s best start to a season since the 2012 team also went 5-1 through their first six games.
  • Middle Tennessee enters the game at 2-3, including a 17-13 home loss to Vanderbilt last weekend.  MTSU has also dropped games to Alabama and Illinois.
  • WKU has not defeated Middle Tennessee at home since 1989, and three of the last four games in Bowling Green against the Blue Raiders have been decided by five points or less.
  • WKU-Middle Tennessee is Conference USA’s most historic rivalry with the two teams, separated by 100 miles, playing 64 games since 1914. The last four games have been decided by a total of 12 points.
  • The two programs rank among the top five in 12 different Conference USA statistical rankings, including scoring offense and scoring defense.
  • WKU ranks No.1 and MTSU No.2 in C-USA in defensive interceptions.
  • WKU Heisman candidate quarterback Brandon Doughty has thrown for more than 400 yards in four consecutive games.
  • WKU senior Tyler Higbee is the nation's most productive tight end with 408 yards of offense.
  • MTSU ranks 19th nationally in fewest penalties per game (4.80).
  • Blue Raiders WR Richie James is averaging 8.4 receptions a game this season as a freshman to rank 7th nationally and ranks 1st among freshmen.
  • Hilltoppers WR Taywan Taylor leads C-USA in receiving yards (571), receiving yards per game (114.2) and 150-yard games (2).
  • WKU sophomore linebacker T.J. McCollum is tied for sixth in Conference USA in tackles this season with 41.

For Middle Tennessee to win:

  • Defense wins.  The Blue Raiders will need to slow the WKU passing attack and create a turnover or two.
  • Remain balanced.  Middle Tennessee will attempt to pound the ball against the WKU defense, but it must remain balanced and find success in the passing attack.
  • Stay focused.  Don't let the crowd get you rattled.

For Western Kentucky to win:

  • Stop the run.  In their two wins the Blue Raiders are averaging 261 rushing yards and 5.2 yards per carry. In their three losses, the numbers drop significantly to 53 yards per game at a clip of just 1.7 yards per attempt.
  • Establish the run.  WKU can expect the Blue Raiders defense to focus on slowing the Hilltoppers dangerous passing game, so an effective Hilltoppers rush attack could be the difference on Saturday night.
  • Don't break.  While the WKU defense is giving up over 440 yards of offense a game, it has also proven to difficult to find the end zone.  The Hilltoppers rank third in C-USA in red zone defense.

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