Hilltopper Gameday - The Illinois Game

Sept. 4, 2014

GAME 2: WKU (1-0) at Illinois (1-0)
Game Notes
WKU Notes Illinois Notes C-USA Notes
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The Matchup:

WKU vs. Illinois
Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, 11:00 a.m. CT
Memorial Stadium (60,670), Champaign, Ill.

Game Day Central

TV: Big Ten Network
Chris Denari (Play-By-Play)
Jeremy Leman (Analyst)
Rebecca Haarlow (Sideline)

Radio: IMG Sports Network | WKU Gameday App (Google | iPhone | TuneIn)

Tickets: Call 1-866-ILLINI-1 | Buy Online

  •  Prices: Single Game Adult begin at $39

What to Watch For: WKU Game Notes | Illinois Game Notes

  • WKU is in its 95th season of football and first under head coach Jeff Brohm, who became the school's 19th head coach on Jan. 10, 2014.
  • The Hilltoppers enter 2014 as one of just nine programs from the so-called `Group of Five' conferences with seven or more wins in three consecutive seasons. Not including 2014 results, WKU is 22-15 over the past three years.
  • The three seasons of seven or more wins is the longest such streak since WKU won seven or more from 2000-04. WKU has had 7+ win streaks from 1928-32, 1938-40, 1970-75, and 1996-98.
  • With their 22 wins over the past three seasons entering 2014, the Hilltoppers are tied with Marshall for the most wins of any C-USA program over the past three seasons.
  • WKU's current five-game winning streak is it's longest since the 2011 season - and the sixth longest active streak in the FBS. WKU has not won six in a row since they won 10 straight en route to a 2002 D1-AA national championship. 
  • The Hilltoppers became just the eighth team since 2000 to open a season with 700 yards or more of total offense. Of those eight teams, four happened on the opening weekend of 2014.
  • In the BGSU game, WR Willie McNeal became the first Hilltopper since  at least 1971 - and likely in school history - to have consecutive games with multiple touchdowns receptions. He ended the 2013 campaign with two touchdown grabs against Arkansas State.
About the Game:
  • It will be the first meeting between Illinois and WKU. The Hilltoppers are 0-4 against the current membership of the Big Ten, falling twice to Indiana, and once each to Nebraska and Wisconsin.
  • The Hilltoppers look to open the season 2-0 for the first time since 2005 and win their road opener for just the second time since 2000. The Hilltoppers beat Middle Tennessee in 2011 in the road opener. WKU defeated Kentucky last season at a neutral site. They will also look to defeat an opponent from a `Power 5' conference for the third consecutive season (Kentucky in 2012 and 2013).
  • WKU will be searching for its fifth consecutive victory over a non-conference opponent. WKU has beaten Bowling Green, Army, Navy and Morgan State in their last four OOC meetings. A win over Illinois would mean the sixth OOC win in the last seven for WKU. 

2014 Team Captains:

At their first team meeting of the fall, six Hilltoppers - five seniors - were voted as team captains by their teammates. On offense, QB Brandon Doughty, OL Cameron Clemmons and WR Willie McNeal. On defense, DB Cam Thomas, LB Terran Williams and DL Gavin Rocker. Doughty and Thomas are both repeat captains.

Keeping Continuity:

Of the 20 schools to make a change at their head coaching position during this past offseason, only WKU was able to maintain continuity through the old and new staff. Coach Brohm is the only head coach this season who was on staff with his team at least the season before. Of those 14 teams that made coaching changes, only Brohm and four others have previous experience coaching within that program.

Quick Starts

Since shifting to a high-flying offense to start the 2013 season, WKU has proven to be potent on their opening drive. In 12 games in 2013, WKU opened nine of them with a score, tallying seven touchdowns and a pair of field goals on their opening possession. The Hilltoppers continued their hot streak against Bowling Green, driving 83 yards for a score.

Additionally, in his nine starts last season, Brandon Doughty was 22-of-24 for 282 yards and three touchdown passes on opening drives. Doughty was perfect against BGSU, going 7-for-7 for 63 yards to push his total on opening drives to 29-of-31 for 345 yards. 

Tough Out of Conference

After going 0-12 against non-conference foes in their first three years as an FBS team, WKU has turned it around and has been on a hot streak against teams from outside their conference.

Over the past two seasons, the Hilltoppers are 7-3 against non-conference opponents with their only losses coming at Tennessee, at Alabama and Central Michigan in the bowl game. Over that span, no other C-USA team has beaten as many teams out of conference.

Youth + Experience

The Hilltoppers feature one of the youngest teams in the country - and Conference USA's youngest - as they have 67 freshmen and sophomores making up their 105 fall camp roster. That mark is No. 25 nationally and the highest in C-USA.

However, head coach Jeff Brohm has countered this with the league's most experienced collegiate coaching staff, tallying 238 years of combined experience. The next closest - Middle Tennessee with 187.


Conference USA Coaching Staff Experience
Team Head Coach Comb. Years of Experience
WKU Jeff Brohm 238
Middle Tennessee Rick Stockstill 187
North Texas Dan McCarney 180

All-Purpose Streak
With two players eclipsing 100 APY in the 2014 opener, the Hilltoppers have now had an individual go for 100 or more APY in 45 consecutive games, dating back to Oct. 9, 2010 against FIU - the last time a Hilltopper individual was held under 100 APY.

569 and Above
Only six FBS quarterbacks have thrown for more than 569 yards in a game since the 2004 season - Brandon Doughty's total in the 2014 season opener - and of those six, only West Virginia's Geno Smith threw more touchdowns (8 vs. Baylor 9/29/12) in their monster performance.

How to Follow the Hilltoppers: For complete information on WKU Hilltopper Football, follow the program via social media @WKUFootball on Twitter and on Facebook at facebook.com/WKUFootball.