After getting bowl eligible last week with a win at North Texas, the WKU Football team looks to close out the regular season on a high note as they host Troy at 11:30 a.m. (CST) on Saturday at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium.
Prior to the game, WKU will honor its 2011 senior class that will play its final career home game. The Hilltoppers are also looking for their first-ever victory over Troy. They picked up their first victory in five tries against North Texas last week.
Tickets for Saturday's game are available through the WKU Ticket Office by calling 1-800-5 BIG RED or online at www.wkusports.com. The ticket office will run normal business hours (8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.) Monday and Tuesday, and will be open from noon-4:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The office will closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving, but will reopen from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Friday. Tickets will also go on sale at the stadium beginning at 8 a.m. on Saturday.
Hilltoppers Get Bowl Eligible - Thanks to its 10-point victory at North Texas last week, WKU is bowl eligible for the first time since becoming a full-fledged FBS member in 2009. The feat is even more remarkable considering the Hilltoppers went a combined 2-22 during their first two seasons playing at college football's highest level. While the Hilltoppers must wait for a possible bowl berth, a victory over Troy would guarantee them sole possession of second place in the Sun Belt Conference standings. A WKU victory this week, and a Trojan win at Arkansas State on Dec. 3, would give the Hilltoppers a share of the conference championship with ASU.
Rainey Running Towards Record - With one more game at Houchens-Smith Stadium, Bobby Rainey could make Senior Day extra special by becoming WKU's career rushing leader. Thanks to his season-high 214 yards at North Texas, Rainey needs just 82 yards to pass Lerron Moore for the most rushing yards in Hilltopper history. He has rushed for no fewer than 85 yards in a game this season. Rainey's 133.5 yards per game this season is now second in the FBS behind only Oregon's LaMichael James (142.8 ypg). He is also just 32 yards away from becoming just the eighth FBS running back since 2000 to rush for 1,500 yards in consecutive seasons.
Jakes Plays Big in Texas - While Rainey was putting up big numbers on the ground against North Texas, junior quarterback Kawaun Jakes was making plays through the air. Jakes completed 19 of 29 passes for 231 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. He became the first WKU QB to throw for three scores in a game since Justin Haddix did so against FIU on Nov. 19, 2005. It was the fourth time this season that Jakes has thrown for over 200 yards. It was also his third-highest passing total of the season.
Doyle Continues To Make Plays - Nearly half of Jakes' 19 completions went to WKU's most reliable target - junior tight end Jack Doyle. Doyle caught a career-high nine passes for 89 yards to lead the Hilltopper air attack. The nine catches were the most for a WKU player since Jake Gaebler also hauled in nine passes against UNT on Oct. 31, 2009 in Denton. Doyle currently leads WKU with 46 receptions for 513 yards on the season, but it still looking for his first scoring catch of the year.
Spreading the Wealth - While Doyle caught a bulk of the passes last week, a total of seven different Hilltoppers caught at least one pass against the Mean Green. That includes freshman Tyler Higbee, who hauled in his first career catch - a 63-yard scoring strike from Jakes late in the first half. Spreading the ball around is nothing new for WKU this season. At total of 14 players have caught at least one pass, and of those with at least five receptions, eight are averaging over 10 yards per reception.
Young Steps Up - Filling in at starting safety for the injured Ryan Beard, Kiante Young joined two other teammates with a team-high seven tackles against North Texas. That represented a season high in tackles for Young. He also came up big late in the game, recording his first interception of the year. That pick led a late touchdown for WKU, sealing the victory.
Ball Hogs - WKU has made a habit all season of controlling time of possession, getting to the point where it now ranks fourth in the nation by holding the ball for an average of 34 minutes and 22 seconds per game. The Hilltoppers took that to a whole new level last Saturday, recording 39 minutes and 45 seconds of offensive possession against North Texas. WKU had the ball for 40:47 during its win at Arkansas State in 2010. WKU has won the possession battle in 20 of its last 23 contests.
Run Stuffers - For the sixth time in 11 games this season, WKU held an opponent under 100 rushing yards when it limited North Texas to just 68 yards on the ground last week. On the year, the Hilltoppers are allowing 144.6 rushing yards per game, but just 93.8 yards per game in its six victories. On the season, Troy is rushing for just 97.5 yards per contest.