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Hilltoppers favored over visiting SEC team

WKU Insider preview for Hilltoppers v Commodores

Here's the WKU Insider game preview:

LOCATION: Houchens-Smith Stadium, Bowling Green, Ky (22,113)
DATE:  Saturday, September 17
KICKOFF: 3:30 p.m.CT
RADIO:  Hilltopper IMG Sports Network: 105.3 FM/1450 AM
TV:  CBS Sports Network
Play-by-Play:  Randy Lee
Analyst:  Leo Peckenpaugh
Sideline:  Terry Obee

NOTEBOOK

Vanderbilt makes its first-ever trip to Bowling Green for just the fifth meeting between the two nearby schools.  The Hilltoppers defeated the Commodores 14-12 last season to claim their first win in the short series.

WKU

  • WKU has won 11 consecutive home games, the fifth-longest active streak in the nation. The Hilltoppers are 12-1 all-time at home under Jeff Brohm.
  • While WKU is 3-16 against the SEC all-time, it is 3-4 since 2012, with every game coming away from home. Those four losses were at No. 1 Alabama (2012 and 2016), at Tennessee (2013), and at No. 5 LSU (2015).  In addition to the win at Vandy in 2015, WKU has recently notched a pair of wins against Kentucky.
  • WKU hopes to see the return of running back Anthony Wales and offensive lineman Joe Manley this weekend.  Offensive lineman Lamp Forrest, running back D'Andre Ferby are both likely out.
  • The Hilltoppers are 11-1 since 2012 against out of conference opponents from outside a Power 5 conference. The lone loss came against Central Michigan in the 2012 Little Caeser's Bowl.
  • The WKU offense averages 48.2 points at home under the direction of head coach Jeff Brohm.

Vanderbilt

  • The VU offense is struggling early in 2016, ranking 11th or worse in the SEC in total offense, rushing offense, passing offense and scoring offense.
  • The Commodores are looking to rebound following a 38-7 loss at Georgia Tech last weekend.  VU opened the season with a 13-10 against South Carolina.
  • Vandy's lone victory on the season came against WKU rival Middle Tennessee in Nashville, winning 47-24 in week two.
  • Despite the offensive struggles, VU is one of 23 teams in the nation to be perfect in the red zone through the first three weeks.
  • Vanderbilt is 27-5 all-time against current members of Conference USA.

KEY PLAYERS

WKU

QB Mike White: Among the nation's top 20 in passing yards and passer rating, White has proven capable of making the big play. He is currently tied for 4th in the country in 25+ yard plays (13) and ranks 5th in yards per attempt (10.7).

RB Quiton Baker: Freshman back enjoyed his first career 100-yard outing last week at Miami.  He'll need to continue to help carry the load as others become healthy.

WR Taywan Taylor: The senior ranks 12th nationally in receiving yards. If he's being targeted or not, Taylor's presence makes an impact whenever he's on the field.

Vanderbilt

RB Ralph Webb:  The SEC's current leading rusher and on pace to establish a new Vandy school record for career rushing yards.

LB Zach Cunningham: A preseason All-SEC selection, he's currently second in the league with 29 total tackles.

QB Kyle Shurmur: Has thrown for 335 yards and two touchdowns through three games.

QUOTABLE

Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason on the game:

"I know this is a backyard brawl. Anytime that you play Middle Tennessee, you play Western Kentucky, you know those borders are extremely tight. So, these football teams are going to go to war."

WKU head coach Jeff Brohm on hosting an SEC program for first-time ever:

"The opportunity to have an SEC opponent come into our stadium is something that we are looking forward to and I think our fans are," Brohm said. "We've got to come ready to play. It'll be a tough challenge, but its something we're looking forward to."


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