WKU Football: Gameday Info vs. FAU
After the bizarre 2020 college football season, WKU found a way to scratch and claw to a bowl game appearance and a 5–7 overall final record. With a team that many thought could compete for a conference championship, the Tops finished in the middle of the pack.
However, with a momentous offseason with tons of huge “gets” and “coups”, the most significant of which were Houston Baptist transfer quarterback Bailey Zappe signing with the Tops and superstar defensive end DeAngelo Malone deciding to forego a realistic shot at the NFL and stay on campus for a fifth year, the Tops seem poised to be a legitimate threat to make a title run.
Fast forward through ten games now. It’s the last home game and it’s Senior Day. WKU is 5–1 in conference and in sole possession of first with a full one game lead on Marshall. WKU is 6–4 after five straight wins against C-USA also-rans. WKU’s lone conference loss came to now-consensus ranked UTSA. With a near stranglehold on first place, WKU just needs to win against FAU to eliminate yet another East opponent. Also, a win would put pressure on Marshall to win at Charlotte to set up an epic game in Huntington next week to decide the East Division.
WKU (6–4, 5–1 C-USA) takes on an FAU (5–5, 3–3 C-USA) squad has folded under pressure the past few weeks. Under the tutelage of Willie Taggart, FAU looked the favorite early in the season. Since, FAU has faded and is hanging on by a thread of hope to somehow share a C-USA East crown. A loss this week ends that pipe dream, but the Owls need tons of help to even entertain the possibility of sharing the East with either Marshall or WKU. There’s a lot on the line this week for both programs. It should be a good game.
Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium
Set near the bottom of a steep hill, LT Smith Stadium has housed the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers since 1968. WKU renovated “The Houch” as it transitioned to the FBS, adding 7,000 more seats and moving all WKU Football Operations into the new side of the stadium, finishing construction in 2009.
Saturday, November 20, 2021 11 AM CST
Despite the bitterly cold weather after dark, this game will be played in the middle of the day, thankfully. Temperatures at kickoff should be slightly above 50 degrees, warming up throughout the game, and peaking in the mid to upper 50s. Mostly cloudy skies may make it feel a little more chilly than a sunny day in the 50s, so bring a light to mid-sized jacket. It will be fairly windy. The good news is there should be little to no chance of rain.
Play-by-Play: Noah Coslov Analyst: Sed Bonner
Game WILL be shown locally on WKYU-PBS (Check your DVR; mine almost always screws up WKYU)
Randy Lee (Play by Play), Terry Obee (Analyst), Jared Holland (Analyst), Lexi Schweinert (Sideline)
Also, you can listen to the radio call anywhere in the world on the WKU Gameday App! WKU All Access is also covering a live video feed from the radio booth on the app now, as well.
Betting Lines from Sportsline.com
ESPN.com Match-up Predictor
WKU-76.7% chance to win
WKU: 6–4 (5–1 C-USA)
FAU: 5–5 (3–3 C-USA)
Last Time Out…
WKU clinched bowl eligibility with a 42–21 win against Rice. This marks the fifth game in a row that the Hilltoppers have found themselves in the win column. WKU has not faced a close game since losing to UTSA in early October. Western has won each of its last five games by at least 15 points. WKU simply needs to win its last two games to clinch a C-USA East Division title.
FAU’s championship hopes have been pretty much dashed after losing two straight division games. Losing to Marshall and ODU virtually slams the door on any possibility for the Owls to shoot for even a share of the East. But they have plenty to play for. If they win today, they will be bowl eligible for the third season in a row.
9–3 FAU (FAU has won four straight)
In a brutal sludgefest, FAU found a way despite most statistics slightly leaning toward the Toppers, ultimately defeating WKU 10–6. Tied at half, all of the scoring came late in the game. Ultimately, FAU scored a touchdown late and took it to the final score line with 2:27 remaining.
Questionable to Doubtful: TE Joshua Simon (foot) is still listed as questionable despite reports that he may not return this season. He has now missed every game since coming up gimpy near the end of the UT-Martin game. After seeing him on the sideline for several games, it appears he has a significant leg brace that he wears under his clothes. After consulting with Devin Stewart from RedOut Podcast (former WKU Football trainer), it is most likely to protect a severe ligament straight or meniscus tear. Given that potential, it would be an iffy proposition as to whether he could come back before the end of the season.
Out for Season: CB Diashun Moss (upper body); LB Courtney McBride (ankle)
Out Indefinitely: LB Caliph Brice (Arm); Impact: Huge…Third leading tackler still, despite not playing the last two games
Comment: These injuries explain why FAU may have lost a step defensively over the season. These are three significant contributors in the back half of this defense.
Excitement Level — 6
Listen, WKU is now fighting for positioning in the postseason, be it in conference and bowl games. Everything affects everything, so WKU needs to take care of business. If WKU wins, they set up either an East Division win, or an epic battle against Marshall next week. It’s Senior Day. Willie Taggart is one the other sideline. Any WKU fan that can’t get fired up for the last game of the season when the Tops are in contention isn’t paying attention or isn’t a real fan.
That locker room has to be buzzing. The WKU fan base should be, as well. Will they? We shall see, but the Tops should have plenty of support this week, and hopefully WKU fans will come out of the woodwork to make a nice visiting crowd for the Tops in Huntington next week. It’s an exciting time of year. Topper fans should be excited and ready to help WKU win a championship. It’s all within their reach.
We’ll be providing live coverage and reaction. If you made it to The Houch, please send us your best pictures from campus, tailgating, and in-game via Twitter at @TheTowelRackWKU or on our Facebook page and we’ll share.