WKU Football: Hilltoppers vs. Rice Game Information and Staff Predictions

At long last, it’s here. welcome to college football thursday.

The defending Conference USA champion Western Kentucky Hilltoppers will take to the football field for a game that matters for the first time since before Christmas and good golly is the excitement high. As it should be.

Jeff Brohm is back, and will be until at least 2019 (if he stays the remainder of his four-year extension). Mike White is the new quarterback. Taywan Taylor, Nicholas Norris and Nacarius Fant highlight an exciting receiving corps. The combination of Ace Wales and D’Andre Ferby, plus maybe the potential of Leon Allen returning, make for a very very talented back field.

And all of that is just on the offensive side of the ball.

Starting off the year, the Tops welcome in the Rice Owls, who turned in a 5–7 record in 2015 and who have a bit of turnover themselves, probably most notably in losing quarterback Driphus Jackson.

Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. CT, and will be on CBS Sports Network across this great land of ours.

Now, on to the staff predictions! This is something we’ll do every week before a game, and we’ll keep a running tally just to keep things interesting. Or not. You decide. (But we’re gonna do it anyway.)

Fletcher (0–0)

The Tops come into tonight with the best of both worlds — a conference opponent to throw them right into the mix of the season, but a conference opponent that they beat soundly last season (49–10) and one they should beat soundly again. The offense is going to have hiccups, and I don’t think it’ll be fair to base how good Mike White will be based off of the first game (remember last year against Vandy? *monkey covering eyes emoji*), but I think he does well. I think the Tops come out rocking, I think the crowd at Smith Stadium disappoints, and I think it’ll be Dear Old Western’s Day to the tune of a 31–10 victory.

Marcus (0–0)

Even though Jeff Brohm just named the main man for his offense last week, I’m still handing WKU an easy week one win against Rice. The Hilltoppers will be slow at first, but won’t take long to get rolling (after all, it is a Jeff Brohm offense). The main threat for this one is on the ground from Ferby and Wells, with White adding a TD or two in the air, will be more than enough to hand the Owls a loss. Give me WKU, 34–17.

Will (0–0)

Rice comes into the Houch after WKU traveled down to Houston last year and handed it to the Owls. While both teams have lost their starting QB’s, WKU as a team is simply a whole lot stronger than their opponents in this one. For the Tops I see a heavy dose of the running game, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Tops try something interesting at the beginning to set the tone and get White loose and setteled in early. That being said I see WKU being too much for an Owl team not many know about, 38–10 Toppers, with a ferocious Alabama team waiting in the wings.

Josh (0–0)

WKU opens up their season against a Rice team who finished with a 5–7 record last year. I think that WKU will win this game comfortably. It is the season opener so the team will come out with a lot of energy. The defense will be improved from last year in my opinion, and the offense will do enough for an easy win. The final score will be 35–17.

Now, it’s your turn to sound off. How do you see the first game of the 2016 gridiron season playing out for the Tops? Let us know in a comment below or on twitter at @TheTowelRackWKU.

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