WKU Football: Eight Wins Is Not Impossible In Year One Under Helton

At minimum, the 2019 WKU football season will consist of 12 games. With any luck, the season will span 14 games. With a lot of luck, it’ll be 15. But, that’s more of a pipe dream than anything.

In the immediate aftermath of Tyson Helton’s press conference on Tuesday, there was a similar sentiment around Hilltopper fans — WKU football as we once knew it is back and the Hilltoppers have no business not being bowl eligible in 2019.

I, however, took it a step farther. While it won’t be a failure for next year if the mark isn’t met, an eight-win year one (replicating what 2014 was under Jeff Brohm) would put the Tops in a great spot to content for a conference title in 2020 and beyond.

And after a couple of days of thinking about it, I guess my main point I was trying to get across is what was surmised in that last tweet; while eight wins shouldn’t be “the goal,” (seven, arguably, should be), it isn’t impossible to reach.

We know the Hilltoppers will face some variation of the following schedule next season:

  • vs. Central Arkansas (8/31)
  • vs. Louisville (9/14)
  • vs. Army (10/12)
  • at Arkansas (11/9)
  • at Marshall
  • vs. Charlotte
  • at ODU
  • vs. MTSU
  • at FIU
  • vs. FAU
  • (Presumably) one home and one away game against a CUSA West division team

Operating under the assumption that the Hilltoppers win half of their one-possession losses from this past season (it could easily be more), you’ve doubled the win total from this year, in and of itself.

Add into account a more consistent performance (aka play something of a second half) for other games (no repeats of Charlotte, FAU games, for example) and who know’s where the Tops record is.

This isn’t the time to run down the schedule and predict wins and losses. To be honest, I’m a little gun shy about that — 2018 is still too fresh in the mind. But, the Hilltoppers have a few things working in their favor to not only attain bowl eligibility but fight for eight wins which, this year, proved to be enough to win the east division.

  • Looking at teams heading into next year in the East, who do you classify as a “world beater”? No one, I’d say. The Tops hung with Marshall, who finished second, and FIU (for a half…kind of), who finished third. FAU proved to be a major disappointment (although I’m not going to put it past Kiffin to be able to bounce back), Charlotte finished the year strong but they’ll be in a transition year under new leadership too and MT is what they are — they’re 8–4 overall and won the conference and will be without Brent Stockstill, their best quarterback in the last…decade? Plus? Sure, they went 7–1 in conference play, but that says more about CUSA this year than the Blue Raiders.
  • With the first game coming against an FCS squad (a team that went 6–5), I like the opportunity to work on the new offense. Yes, I know Maine happened, but they’re a Top 25 FCS side (which shouldn’t matter but does to prove my point).
  • Both of WKU’s P5 opponents next season are coming of two-win years and one of them — Louisville — will have a brand new head coach. If the Tops get them early enough to perhaps eek a win out, especially in Nashville.

Again, I’m no longer putting the expectation of eight wins on Helton to claim a successful year. Bowl eligibility, and more importantly a bowl game, should be the goal, but I do think seven wins is realistic.

However, come this time next year we are staring eight wins in the face, don’t tell me no one saw a turnaround coming.