Coming off a dramatic 32-31 overtime win at Kentucky last week, WKU returns home to host Southern Miss this Saturday at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium. It will be the first-ever meeting between the Hilltoppers and Golden Eagles, and the game will be availabe on ESPN3. Southern Miss is in search of its first victory of the season, while WKU is looking to start a year 3-1 for the first time since 2007. During halftime, WKU Athletics will honor the 2002 I-AA National Championship team, as well as the 1992 "Save the Program" squad. There will also be a pregame ceremony to recognize former Hilltopper head coach Jack Harbaugh.
Dave Weekley, play-by-play
Corey Chavous, analysis
Radio: Hilltopper/IMG Sports Network
(103.7 WPTQ-FM; 1450 WWKU-AM in Bowling Green)
Randy Lee, play-by-play
Leo Peckenpaugh, analysis
Scott Thompson, sideline
Internet: live audio on wkusports.com
Opening Kickoff -
WKU has now won nine of its last 11 games dating back to last season, with the only losses coming at LSU and Alabama. Both the Tigers and Crimson Tide were ranked #1 in the nation at the time of those games.
The Hilltoppers are 2-1 to start a season for the first time since 2007 - its first year of transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision.
With its 32-31 overtime win at Kentucky last week, the Hilltoppers earned their first-ever win against a Southeastern Conference school. It was also the first victory for WKU against a team from a BCS automatic qualifying conference.
WKU is now 9-1 all time in overtime games, and 4-0 when going to OT under head coach Willie Taggart.
- For the first time since joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2009, WKU swept the league's weekly awards on Monday. Running back Antonio Andrews and safety Jonathan Dowling were named Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week, respectively, for the first time in their careers. Punter Hendrix Brakefiled earned Special Teams Player-of-the-Week honors for the second time in his career. WKU is the first team to sweep the awards since Troy did so during the 2010 season.
Back Home With Lots To Celebrate - Not only will fans get a chance to welcome the 2012 Hilltoppers back home this Saturday following last week's dramatic win over Kentucky, but two other important teams in the history of Hilltopper football will be on hand. Ten years ago, WKU won its only team national championship as the Hilltoppers defeated McNeese State 34-14 to capture the 2002 Division I-AA Football title in Chattanooga, Tenn. Members of that team will be back on the Hill next Saturday (Sept. 22) to be recognized at WKU's game against Southern Miss. Additionally, the 1992 "Save the Program" team will also be honored. Jack Harbaugh, who was the head coach of both of those squads, will also be on hand for a special recognition.
Toppers Earn Votes In Coaches Poll - For the first time since starting the move to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2007, WKU has appeared in a national poll, earning three votes this week in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Fellow Sun Belt member Louisiana-Monroe also made an appearance for the second straight week, earning four votes in the poll released on Sunday. The Hilltoppers were ranked numerous times during their years in the FCS (Division I-AA), reaching the top spot in the poll after winning 2002 National Championship, and again during the 2005 season.
Dowling Leads "Air Force" - Sophomore safety Jonathan Dowling accomplished a feat not seen by a Hilltopper defender in almost 34 years last Saturday. The University of Florida transfer became just the fifth Hilltopper in history to record at least three interceptions in a game as he picked off Kentucky quarterback Maxwell Smith three times. The last time a WKU defender recorded three INTs in a game came on Sept. 30, 1978 when Carl Brazley had three takeaways against East Tennessee State. Junior college transfer Brett Harrington added WKU's fourth interception, giving the Hilltoppers their most picks since they intercepted Murray State four times on Sept. 20, 2008.
Comparing Kawaun - Through three games of his senior season, quarterback Kawaun Jakes continues to put up impressive numbers. The four-year starter has completed 71.1 percent of his passes (54 of 76) for 634 yards with five touchdown throws and just three interceptions. In many ways, those numbers can be attributed to WKU's 2-1 start, and is a big improvement over 12 months ago. Through three games in 2011, Jakes was completing just 55.1 percent of his passes (38 for 69) with six picks and just two TD throws.
Andrews Has Career Night - Junior Antonio Andrews continued his development into WKU's top option at running back, putting together a career effort in the win at Kentucky. The Fort Campbell native set new career highs in rushing attempts (34), rushing yards (125), rushing TDs (3) and all-purpose yards (233). Andrews currently leads the Sun Belt in both all-purpose yards per game (197.7) and punt return average (18.8), ranking sixth and 13th nationally in those categories, respectively. Of players with at least 50 touches so far this season, Andrews ranks second in the nation at 8.24 yards per play. UCLA's Johnathan Franklin leads in that stat with 9.01 yards per touch.
Staying On The Field - Through three games, the WKU offense has only been forced into a three-and-out punting situation one time in 37 drives. That came late in the third quarter of last week's win at Kentucky. Entering its game against WKU on Sept. 8, Alabama had a streak of 77 consecutive games with at least one three-and-out. Despite the loss to the top-ranked Crimson Tide, the Hilltoppers were able to bring an end to that impressive streak.
Getting to 30 - With 36:07 time of possession last week at Kentucky, the Hilltoppers now have a streak of 13 straight games winning the time-of-possession battle. In 2011, WKU led the nation in that category, holding the ball for an average of 35:08 per game. That trend is continuing this season as through three games the Hilltoppers are tied for ninth nationally at 33:49 per game.