Western Kentucky senior quarterback Brandon Doughty will play his last home game at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium on Saturday as he hopes to lead his Hilltoppers to a big win over UTSA; a victory would make Western Kentucky bowl-eligible for a third straight season. The Hilltoppers are coming off what was undoubtedly their best performance since their week one debacle of Bowling Green: a 52-24 victory over Army. Head coach Jeff Brohm's high-flying offense was clicking on all cylinders, highlighted by junior runningback Leon Allen's 345 yard record-setting showing. The Hilltopper defense also held its own as it gave up just ten first half points.
UTSA, in its second season as a member of Conference USA, is sitting at 3-7 with bowl hopes eliminated. The Roadrunners are looking to build off an impressive defensive performance in their 12-10 victory over Southern Miss a week ago. This Roadrunners team, currently ranked 111th (FBS) in both passing and rushing, has been relied on its inconsistent defense this season. Although they are giving up just less than 24 points per game, their resume ranges from giving up just seven points to Houston to open the season to giving up 34 points in a loss to UTEP last month. In its three victories, UTSA has dominated both time of possession and the turnover battle. The Roadrunners will be looking to force WKU quarterback Brandon Doughty into some mistakes; the redshirt senior has only thrown for more than one interception just once this season. Since Doughty's four-interception performance in their loss to LA Tech, head coach Jeff Brohm has worked with his young quarterback at avoiding pressure and the results have been evident in recent weeks; Doughty uncharacteristically ran for a touchdown last week against UTEP.
This UTSA defense that is giving up just 20 points in its last five games will have its hands full with not only Doughty, but also junior runningback Leon Allen. Allen, though not necessarily comparable with Hilltopper runningbacks of the past (Bobby Rainey, Antonio Andrews), rushed for a conference record 345 yards and three scores a week ago. Allen has rushed for over 100 yards four times this season, and has proven to be a go-to man for offensive coordinator Tyson Helton -- whether he is catching passes out of the backfield or running the ball.
On the opposite side of the ball, both teams have struggled. UTSA's passing attack includes both freshman quarterback Austin Robinson and senior quarterback Tucker Carter. The two are putting up a combined 170 yards per game. With Carter listed as questionable this week, I'd expect to at least see an early dose of Austin Robinson. Head coach Larry Coker knows his offense has struggled this season, and will look to improve against an also inconsistent squad in the Western Kentucky defense. The Hilltoppers are giving up an abysmal 39.8 points per game this season, but showed improvement in their impressive victories over Army and UTEP. Defensive coordinator Nick Holt will need his son, linebacker Nick Holt, to keep the defense under control on Saturday. Although their statistics don't necessarily reflect it, Roadrunners such as Jarveon Williams and David Morgan II are very capable of making big plays. Western Kentucky, with its own share of big plays this season, has been known to give up huge amounts of yardage to other teams. so don't be surprised if this Roadrunners squad puts up its share of points. The Western Kentucky secondary has improved, thanks to the return of senior corner Cam Thomas. Thomas said earlier this week that he was ready to lead his brothers to war in his last home game, and I think he will ultimately lead his teammates to a solid performance this week.
Western Kentucky 45 UTSA 27
11/22/14 - 12:00PM (Eastern) - 57° (Precip 10%)
L.T. Smith Stadium - Bowling Green, KY
TV: Fox Sports Net (Check your local listings)