The Towel Rack
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The Towel Rack

WKU Football: Matt’s Stats — No Future WKU Opponent is a Given Loss or Win

Yeah, okay, that up there is pretty cliche, but let’s seriously take a look at WKU’s opponents the rest of the way. You decide for yourself if you think any of them are a foregone conclusion. Is any one of them a definite win or loss?

Of course any game can go either way. That’s why they play the games and don’t simulate it on a video game. However, before the season, it would stand to reason that certain games were off the table for the Tops. For example, in conference, FAU should be untouchable. Maybe Louisiana Tech should be pretty tough to beat on the road.

Out of conference, Wisconsin could’ve been much worse than it ended up being. WKU actually should have beaten Louisville, a team Vegas picked to win eight games this year.

WKU certainly should have slaughtered Maine, but instead got mauled by the Black Bears.

The Tops looked awful for a majority of the game against Ball State until pulling it out at the end. Clearly, they’re unpredictable.

WKU So Far

In WKU’s first four games, the Tops clearly have some deficiencies. However, statistically, the Tops have shored up some of their worst attributes from last year.

For example, the running game is rushing for 131 yards per game. That’s more than double last year’s average, when WKU was dead last by a mile.

WKU currently stands 101st nationally in rushing. You know what? That’s remotely respectable, and more importantly, is not a huge liability late in games.

WKU’s defensive line, instead of being in the bottom five in sacks, is tied for 65th in the country and could realistically pass or match their sack total in the game against Marshall Saturday.

The offensive line has only given up 11 sacks so far this season, which is tied for 97th in the FBS.

These are several huge areas of concern from last year that are at least decent this year.

Negatively, WKU’s passing attack averages 75 yards less than 2017. WKU’s special teams are a huge liability, decreasing punt average from over 40 to 37 yards per game. Field goal percentage has gone from near 60% to 40%.

All told, WKU has a few blaring weaknesses in 2018, but at least these weaknesses are minimized, and the most egregious holes are not applicable to every snap of the game.

WKU’s Rank Among C-USA

  • Scoring Offense: 12th
  • Scoring Defense: 4th
  • Total Offense: 7th
  • Total Defense: 7th
  • WKU is no worse than 12th and no better than 4th in nearly all categories
  • Field Goal Percentage: Last
  • Opponent Penalty Yardage: 1st

What’s the point? WKU is decent in almost everything.

WKU’s Future Opponents

9/29 vs. Marshall (2–1, 0–0 C-USA)

The Thundering Herd were expected to take another step towards competing for a conference championship. A proud program, Marshall has endured a few years of mediocrity since their 13–1 season in 2014.

Marshall has very modest wins against Miami of Ohio, 35–28, and against EKU, 32–16. Miami was a blowout that turned into a close affair after Marshall nearly blew a 28–7 lead late in the third quarter.

Marshall hosted N.C. State and lost by a score of exactly 37–20 for the second year in a row. This is a pretty good showing against that could be favored in most of its games this year.

Marshall is favored by eight against WKU at home, but WKU could certainly win at home in a rivalry game.

10/13 @ Charlotte (2–2, 1–0 C-USA)

Charlotte has struggled since joining Conference USA, and since establishing a program in 2013, the 49ers have never reached six wins. 2–2 ties the second best start in school history, so the program should be feeling good and confident. With a win against ODU, who pulled a miracle beating Virginia Tech at home over the weekend, Charlotte could certainly beat a shaky WKU team on the road. Obviously, WKU should win, but the Toppers will enter the game against Charlotte with a record no better than 2–3. They won’t be a massive favorite, regardless of the Marshall outcome.

10/20 vs. Old Dominion (1–3, 0–2 C-USA)

This game usually ends in a fight in a WKU win, but Old Dominion just beat Virginia Tech out of nowhere. Before that, ODU had lost two early conference battles with Charlotte and FIU. They also got slaughtered by Liberty in the first week of the season. Who in the world knows what’s going on with the Monarchs? But if they can beat Virginia Tech, they could beat anyone in the country.

10/27 vs. FIU (2–2, 1–0 C-USA)

FIU is rarely in the conversation, but since Butch Davis has taken over as head coach, they have been increasingly impressive. FIU destroyed WKU in 2017, and looks to be pretty decent this year. The Golden Panthers are at .500, but both of their losses have been respectable losses to Power Five teams. This is several games down the road, but unless WKU has gotten on a run, FIU will probably be a slight favorite in this one.

11/2 @ Middle Tennessee (1–2, 0–0 C-USA)

You can always launch records straight out the window with this rivalry. At this point, both teams have losing records. This game could determine if either one gets bowl eligible. Middle plays a tough schedule and could be hanging on to a shred of hope coming into this game. WKU could be the same way, although the gauntlet is not as brutal up to this point of the season.

11/10 @ FAU (2–2, 0–0 C-USA)

Well, heading into this season, I felt this game would probably be out of reach. However, WKU has shown enough to talent to compete with most anybody. Also, FAU has looked beatable at times. They looked terrible against Oklahoma, decent against Air Force, pedestrian against Bethune-Cookman, and was hanging with a ranked UCF team until getting blitzed late.

Without question, FAU may come into this game highly favored. Perhaps it will be a blowout, but that wouldn’t seem to be consistent with WKU’s performances so far. At this point in the season, a super young and inexperienced WKU may have enough developed young talent to be extremely dangerous late in the year. This could even be a trap game for FAU, who faces arch rival FIU the week before and North Texas afterwards. Another angle could be WKU being desperate for a win. Strange results come from desperate teams.

11/17 vs. UTEP (0–4, 0–0 C-USA)

Poor UTEP is just in a bad spot. They may go winless once again in 2018, but they have shown some signs of life. UTEP was tied late in the third quarter with New Mexico State. In addition, despite their 0–12 campaign in 2017, WKU got extremely lucky to get out of El Paso with a 15–14 win. UTEP gained more yards, dominated the line of scrimmage, and attempted three field goals, all of which missed.

11/24 @ La Tech (2–1, 0–0 C-USA)

Louisiana Tech has been one of the better rivalries for WKU in its short tenure as a member of Conference USA. The series sits at 3–2 La Tech since being in the same conference. Three of the five have had a final margin of three or less points. Only one was a blowout, and that was the first edition in 2014. This game is way down the road, so this picture could become more clear either way, but La Tech has looked average to very good at times in this young season. They nearly upset LSU, coming from 24–0 to score 21 points before eventually succumbing, 38–21.

This game could be for all the marbles once again, or it could be to salvage a season for one or both of the teams.

Say What?

This WKU team is a great mystery: No one knows how this thing is going to turn out. This team could finish 1–11 or 9–3. Every conference game is a toss-up. Without playing North Texas, which seems to be the class of the league so far, WKU could take down anyone else on its schedule.

WKU is decent enough in every category to be a good to great team if they can piece everything together at the same time. Unlike last year, when the Toppers just simply couldn’t run the football, protect, or get pressure, at least they have the basic ability to do something in these areas.

There’s no telling where this season ends up, but according to the stats, WKU could win or lose each game remaining on its schedule.

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