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October 12, 2012
Last night's 31-26 victory over Troy wasn't the prettiest win this season for WKU.
After three lost fumbles in a 35-0 defeat at No. 1 Alabama earlier this season, WKU head coach Willie Taggart forced the guilty players to carry a football on campus the entire following week, reinforcing the importance of ball security.
Now, fast forward a month to last night's Troy matchup.
The Toppers fumbled five times against the Trojans, although fortunately for WKU, only losing possession on two.
Troy stacked the box a large portion of the night to stop the Hilltoppers running attack, and WKU couldn't counter with their bigger, stronger No. 2 runningback, Leon Allen, due to a suspension for violating team rules.
Even quarterback Kawaun Jakes had an off night, finishing a solid 21-of-31 passing for 255 yards and three touchdowns to zero interceptions, but missing several open passes and accounting for three of the team's fumbles.
The Toppers only managed 112 yards on the ground on 35 carries, a 3.2 yards per carry average.
They also had 6 penalties for 48 yards, although many more personal foul penalties were unaccounted for, due to offsetting calls with Troy.
But for the Toppers, a win is a win
Yet here we are, WKU sitting on a 5-1 overall record to start the 2012 season.
As I wrote in my season preview, the Hilltoppers are now halfway across the bridge, tested but unscathed, through the most crucial portion of their schedule.
In discussions with Topper fans about this vital stretch in the schedule, I said WKU should be thrilled to emerge 3-1, with 2-2 being sufficient for such tough back-to-back games.
Win at Arkansas State? Check.
Win at Troy? Check.
Next, a big homecoming matchup vs. a 3-2 Louisiana-Monroe team with losses only to Auburn and Baylor, and a road tilt at talented but struggling FIU (1-5).
WKU looks to be sitting on a 6-2 record--maybe even 7-1--entering the easiest 1/3 of their schedule.
The regular season ends with MTSU, FAU, and North Texas--all at home--with one road game at fellow Sun Belt title challenger, Louisiana-Lafayette.
The reaction piece I wrote on Sept. 23 (read here) is closer to coming to fruition.
What's the ceiling this year for WKU football?
9-3? 10-2? Even...11-1?
What kind of bowl do the Toppers land in these scenarios?
As observers, we have the luck of sitting back and watching that drama unfold over the next several weeks.
So buckle up, WKU fans.
Because as the fall leaves' disappear and winter snow begins to emerge, a new season could be starting in Bowling Green, Ky.
Many college football fans call it, "bowl season".