Posts Tagged ‘WKU Hilltoppers’

Miami-Beach-BowlThis is the seventh all-time meeting between these schools. Four games took place when both were 1AA members from 1997-2000. In the two meetings as FBS members in 2009-’10, USF won both SU (0-2 ATS). USF leads the series 4-2 SU. This is the second Miami Beach Bowl. USF went to 6 straight bowls (4-2) from 2005-2010, but this is their first since. Head coach Willie Taggert ironically led WKU to their first bowl as their head coach in 2012, but didn’t coach the game (hired by USF) so this will be his first ever bowl game. WKU lost that game in 2012, but Head coach Jeff Brohm led them to a bowl win last year, 49-48 (-3’) over Central Michigan in the Bahamas Bowl, a game they led 49-14 in the fourth quarter.

Things looked bleak early on for USF as they started the season 1-3 and were trying to find an identity on offense (just four returning starters) as they had two new Co-offensive coordinator’s. They then shifted back to more of a pro-style and won three straight before falling to Navy on the road. The Bulls then closed the season with four straight wins, despite being a ‘dog in three and just missed the AAC championship game! Over those final four, they were plus 26 points per game and plus 195 yards per game, while averaging 504 yards per game, including 303 rushing yards per game (5.6). Running Back Marlon Mack finished with eight games over 100 rushing yards.

WKU was the favorite to win CUSA as they were the first team in FBS history to have a 4,500 yard passer (Brandon Doughty) and 1,500 yard rusher (Leon Allen) and both returned. Allen was injured and lost for the year versus Louisiana Tech and Anthony Wales took over versus Middle Tennessee and finished with five 100 yard game, while Doughty again threw for over 4,500 yards! Their lone losses were on the road at Indiana & LSU, but they were out-gained by less then 100 yards in each and had the fourth most yards LSU allowed all season! WKU indeed was the CUSA Champ and are No. 10 in the FBS averaging 121 yards per game more then their foes allow and posted the most yards allowed by their opponents in five games.

Both of these teams enter this game playing extremely well. USF figures to have the crowd edge as their campus is just 207 miles away. Against bowl teams WKU is plus 83 yards per game, while USF is minus 25 yards per game, but the Bulls led by a combined score of 82-13 at halftime against Temple and Cincinnati, two solid bowl teams. The Bulls have the edge on defense.

1. One of the games I charted two weeks ago was the Tulsa vs Tulane matchup. While the game went entirely Tulsa’s way, Devon Walker, a DB from from Tulane suffered a broken neck on the last play of the first half. It was reported that he actually stopped breathing before being revived. I ask that you all pray for Devon, a former walk-on, who worked his tail off to become a scholarship athlete. Tulane has also set up a Devon Walker fund at: http://www.tulane.edu/devonwalker

2. That leads me to a game that I charted last week between Nebraska and Arkansas State. After having his pulse checked during the first half, Bo Pelini was taken to the hospital during halftime as a precaution. While he checked out fine, it served as a reminder of the grind these coaches go through. I know most of them make a TON of money, but still, it shouldn’t be at the benefit of your health. Money can buy a lot of things, but it can’t buy health.

3. The Texas Longhorns may be ranked #12 in the latest AP poll, but in no way are they the 12th best team in the country. Yes, they defeated an overmatched Ole Miss squad by the score of 66-31, but their defense gave up way too many big plays, coupled with a 100 yd kickoff return on special teams.

4. The most underrated coach in College Football is WKU’s Willie Taggert. And it’s not even close. He’s turned the Hilltoppers completely around and he doesn’t need to use the gimmicky uptempo, spread offenses that so many college coaches use these days. He is doing it with a smashmouth, westcoast, run orientated brand of football taught to him first by Jack Harbaugh, and then by Jim Harbaugh. After his playing days were over at WKU, Taggert was an assistant under Jack at his alma mater, then an assistant under Jim at Stanford. And i’m not saying it because of his win over Kentucky. I was more impressed with his ability to hang with LSU last year and Bama this year. The 35-0 loss to Bama was completely misleading. WKU was only outgained by 100 total yards. The score was so lopsided due to Bama forcing 4 turnovers. Oh yeah, and then there’s this. WKU had 6 sacks on the so called “greatest OL in college football!” I can see Taggert taking over for Derek Dooley at Tennessee in the very near future.

5. The Cleveland Browns are heading in the right direction. I know they are 0-2, but they have had a legitimate chance to win each game. This is a team that was considered by many as one of the 5 worst in the league this year. While many were upset after the opening loss to the Eagles, I wasn’t. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I don’t like the fact that they lost, but come on and be realistic. Did you even think they were going to make it a game leading into the season? The fact that they hung with one of the upper echelon teams in the NFL shows that they aren’t the pushovers they have been. They then answered that with a game on the road against the Bengals where they were an onside recovery from a final drive to tie the ball game.

6. The Cleveland Indians must have new ownership if they are ever going to compete for a World Series Championship. I really don’t need to expand on that point at all.

7. My beloved Ohio State Buckeyes will finish with the best record in the Legends division of the B10 this year. I know they didn’t look so hot versus Cal last week, but Urb will right the ship and their real only competition, Wisconsin, is not the Wisconsin team that you are used to seeing. If you think the Buckeyes have struggled, look at the Badgers barely escaping with wins at home against Northern Iowa & Utah State, and losing at a not so talented Oregon State squad.