The Tops’ search for their first win against a Big Ten opponent will have to wait for a bit longer.
Western Kentucky lost to the Indiana Hoosiers in Bloomington 33-30 in overtime. The Tops led 30-22 with 3:46 remaining in the game. Indiana would go on a nine play, 75-yard drive ending in Connor Bazelak’s second touchdown pass of the day. The Hoosiers would tie it up with a successful two-point conversion, leaving 47 seconds left on the clock for the Hilltoppers.
WKU would get a few breaks to put them back in position for a game winning field goal attempt by Brayden Narveson, but he would miss the 44-yard attempt, sending the game to overtime. The Tops had the ball first in OT and attempted a doable go-ahead field goal, but it would be blocked. Prior to the fourth quarter, Narveson had made three field goals and three extra points.
On their ensuing possession, Indiana’s Charles Campbell would drill a 51-yard field goal to win the game for the Hoosiers.
GAME WINNER— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) September 17, 2022
51-Yard FG seals it for @IndianaFootball! pic.twitter.com/O1hHmRBQ8i
Offensively, the Tops’ had some good moments. Kye Robichaux had one of the better rushing performances in recent WKU history with 14 carries for 135 yards. Austin Reed’s mobility was also on display throughout, and had a fairly decent day throwing the ball. Reed finished 33 of 43 through the air with 329 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. He also ran for 18 yards and a touchdown. There were simply one two many mistakes in the red zone, with his interception being a great example of that.
“He’s a gunslinger and it’s a learning experience,” Helton said of his quarterback postgame.
Defensively, it was a tough day for Western Kentucky’s secondary. While that group had been impressive to start the year with ten takeaways, the one turnover WKU forced on Saturday was a fumble recovery.
With the Tops leading 14-10 halfway through the second quarter, Bazelak threw a pass backwards to his running back and the ball hit the ground. B.J. Wagner would jump on it, forcing WKU’s only takeaway of the day.
Through the air, Bazelak would finish 33 of 55 for 364 yards and two touchdowns. The 55 attempts was a career high for Bazelak. The only time he has thrown for more passing yards was against LSU as the starting QB for Missouri back in 2020.
Allowing 484 yards to the Hoosiers was WKU’s worst defensive outing of the young season.
In the fourth quarter, the Tops were outscored 17-6, allowing Indiana to climb back into the game. A critical fumble by Joshua Simon with 8:33 remaining signified the critical momentum shift. This, grouped with the late special teams miscues, some overthrows by Reed, frivolous use of time outs, and some run blocking issues in the fourth quarter for a dangerous combo for the C-USA side who hoped to start the season 3-0. Instead, they’re 2-1.
WKU continues their season next Saturday, September 24, as they welcome FIU to Bowling Green.