The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs entered the last game of the 2018 regular season 10.5-point favorites against Mike Sanford Jr.’s Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. With their seven wins compared to WKU’s two in 2018, the Techsters certainly earned that distinction. Bulldog fans and Tops fans were equally surprised though when WKU managed a 30-15 win on Saturday.
WKU turned in one of their better rushing performances since Sanford became head coach. They totaled 196 yards on the ground with three rushing touchdowns. Two of those scores came from senior running back DeAndre Ferby playing his final game while wide receiver Lucky Jackson also opened the game with an 18-yard rushing score.
Steven Duncan also threw a touchdown to senior tight end MikQuan Deane playing his final college game.
For Louisiana Tech, they had an uncharacteristic day finding the end zone just once on a run by Israel Tucker. Tech gained more total yards than WKU (380-288) and first downs (23-18), but couldn’t find enough big plays in their bag of tricks. Quarterback J’Mar Smith went 24 of 44 for 280 yards through the air with an interception. Smith left the game in the fourth quarter after appearing to aggravate a leg injury.
Western Kentucky linebacker Ben Holt finished this game with nine tackles, bringing his season total to 113: a new FBS-era program record for WKU. Safety Devon Key also snagged an interception on Tech’s first play of the game, establishing the momentum early for the Tops.
Two weeks ago, those in the know in the Bowling Green media reported that the feeling from WKU’s athletic department was that if Mike Sanford won his final two games, he would be brought back for another season. He and his team defeated UTEP 40-16 last week and won this game, so it looks like he’ll be in Bowling Green a while longer.
WKU surprises Louisiana Tech with a 30-15 win... the understanding in the local press was Mike Sanford needed to win his final two games to stay on for a third season and he's done just that. https://t.co/1G12BMRKSc #WKUvsLT— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) November 24, 2018
I don’t know that I’ll ever be more proud of a group of Seniors than this one. Their legacy is one of Championships, adversity and most of all...FIGHT. The @wkufootball program is better because of you.— Coach Mike Sanford (@CoachSanfordWKU) November 24, 2018
The question now is this: is a third year of Mike Sanford something that fans actually want? A first glance at social media will tell you that isn’t necessarily the case.
Mike Sanford is the jeff fisher of college football. wins just enough not to get fired. never thought i would be bummed out about a tops win..— cole murphy (@12colemurphy) November 24, 2018
somehow when they got rid of Mike Sanford they got a whole lot better. ♂️ when #wku gets him we get a whole lot worse! Trending ⤵️— joneswhat (@joneswhat) November 25, 2018
Is mike Sanford really safe?? Hope they have fun getting 5 wins in a good year— Lucas Bloss (@Lucasbloss22) November 25, 2018
*Mike Sanford is staying at Western* pic.twitter.com/WWDO87WL12— Barstool Western (@BarstoolWestern) November 18, 2018
WKU finish the 2018 regular season 3-9 and will have some work to do on the recruiting trail in the offseason. Tech fans shouldn’t be too upset about the loss, as the Bulldogs were already bowl eligible and now await their destination.
Is bringing Mike Sanford back for a third season the right call?
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