On Tuesday morning, Conference-USA announced the full schedule for the 2018 season. Included in that group were the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers who end the season away from home for three of their last four games.
8/31 Season Opener— WKU Football (@WKUFootball) January 23, 2018
9/8 Home Opener
Full schedule of #ThePursuit18 is here! #GoTops
: https://t.co/HW5OduOW0R pic.twitter.com/m5dLbvWpVS
In a lackluster 6-7 2017 campaign, WKU won just two games on the road (Old Dominion and UTEP) and were 4-4 in conference play. They also lost five of their last six including a 27-17 loss to Georgia State in the Cure Bowl.
This coming season, the Tops open the season on the road in Madison, Wisconsin against the Badgers on Friday, August 31st. WKU is still looking for their first ever win against a Big Ten opponent.
WKU plays the first of their five home games on September 8th against FCS foe Maine. The Black Bears are coming off a season where they finished the year 4-6 (their game vs UCF was cancelled) and finished 7th in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Tops fans in the Louisville area have a chance to see their team live when they meet the Cardinals of U of L on September 15th. Needless to say, winning a game against an in-state P5 opponent would do wonders for morale, recruiting, and Mike Sanford’s resume. The two teams haven’t played each other since 1998 when Louisville won 63-34.
WKU then heads up the road to Muncie for a rematch with Ball State. The Tops won last season’s matchup in Bowling Green 33-21.
The C-USA schedule begins September 29th with a home game against Marshall for the Moonshine Throwdown. The Tops then get a bye week before heading to Charlotte, then returning home for two consecutive weeks facing Old Dominion and FIU.
The 100 Miles of Hate game against Middle Tennessee will be in Murfreesboro on Saturday, November 3rd. WKU then heads down to Boca Raton to face Lane Kiffin’s squad at FAU, and rounds the schedule out with a home game against UTEP and a road date with Louisiana Tech.
The C-USA teams WKU faces remain unchanged from last year, while they obviously play in a different order.
While the Tops play just one less home game than in 2017, they repeat the pattern of playing three out of their last four games on the road. They clearly struggled with that travel schedule last year and with a rebuilding year imminent, time will tell if they will be able to fix that aspect of their game.
With a talented recruiting class coming in, Western Kentucky looks to secure their fifth straight bowl appearance in 2018.