Bowl Projections after week 9

After a last second loss at Marshall , WKU is still just 1 game away from being bowl eligible this season. WKU still is tied for first in Conference USA east division with Marshall and FAU.

When Coach Helton came to WKU he said it’s all about winning championships here and he had started to make that look true with a hot start in conference play of 4-1, and a 5-3 overall record. 

Here is what the experts think of WKU bowl games :

CBS Sports – None

247 Sports – None

ESPN – New Orleans Bowl vs Appalachian State or independence Bowl vs North Carolina

College Football News – Gasparilla Bowl vs UCF

Action Network Frisco Bowl vs Temple

Can the Hilltoppers Stay Hot? Previewing Western Kentucky vs. Marshall

WKU Athletics/WKU Football

It all started in 2014 in Huntington, WV when Brandon Doughty threw a two point conversion in overtime to ruin Marshall’s perfect season. This marked Western Kentucky’s first season in the Conference USA and started a new rivalry between the two schools known as the Moonshine Throwdown. WKU would claim wins the next two seasons before Marshall came out on top in the last two games. Western holds a lead in the series 3-2 since 2014. They will travel to the same field in which this rivalry was born hoping to walk away victorious once again. Marshall appears to be a top three team Tyson Helton’s squad has faced thus far. They sit at 4-3 on the year coming off a nice win over FAU. Until then Marshall had little to show with losses to Boise State, Middle Tennessee and a blowout vs Cincinnati.

Marshall Offense vs. Western Kentucky Defense

Marshall is led on offense by Sophomore quarterback Isaiah Green. Green shows plenty of potential but has been wildly inconsistent this year. He has thrown 10 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. The Herd move the ball quite well, but turnovers have kept points off the board. They have fumbled 6 times this season and lost three in addition to multiple turnover on downs. Marshall’s strength on offense is its run game, led by Brendon Knox who has 719 yards and seven scores on the year. This match-up between Western’s defense and Marshall’s run game will be a key factor to watch in the game. WKU allows 110 rush yards a game to this point, giving up only 3.1 yards per carry. DeAngelo Malone and Kyle Bailey face a tough task in stopping Knox who is fresh off a 220 yard performance. This WKU defense is as good as it has looked in a long time and has 15 sacks on the year. This should be a good war in the trenches between the two teams as Marshall has given up 12 sacks this year. Marshall’s passing game presents its biggest tests by way of their tight ends. Armani Levias is the Herd’s leading receiver with 269 yards. He proves to be difficult to tackle as he stands 6’4 245 lbs and can run and catch like a receiver. Xavier Gains is the other tight end who has 20 catches for 195 yards and 2 TDs. Given WKU’s pass rush, expect a bunch of quick passes to these two. 15 different players have caught a pass for Marshall thus far, but Western’s secondary has looked great the past month.

Western Kentucky Offense vs Marshall Defense

Since Tyson Helton was hired, it was expected Western Kentucky would return an explosive offense like the ones he coordinated here just a few years ago. Until last week it seemed like that would not be the case, but the Hilltoppers put up 351 yards and 3 touchdowns on homecoming against Charlotte. This featured a flea flicker for a touchdown as well as Ty Storey catching a touchdown from Lucky Jackson. If this offense can stay hot and throw the ball it could have a good shot at winning. Marshall has 15 sacks in their last two games. They present a dominant line that can stop the run and get after the quarterback. The good news is they have struggled with running quarterbacks, so I expect some options and quick passes from WKU to keep Marshall honest early. That being said, they struggle in the secondary with only three interceptions all year. If Lucky Jackson or Jacour Pearson gets in space it could be a productive game for them. Gaej Walker will have his hands full but has proved he is a reliable rusher. Tavonte Beckett leads the Herd with 65 tackles and two sacks this year and Darius Hodge has 6 sacks so far. Western will have their hands full with this pass rush.

Special Teams

Marshall kicker Justin Rohrwasser has been reliable for the Herd all season going a perfect 7/7 on his field goals. He has missed only one PAT in 22 tries. Marshall does present a weakness in its kickoff coverage which gives Garland LaFrance and Clayton Bush an opportunity to set up good field position. On the Tops side, Cory Munson has been as reliable a kicker as WKU has had in a few years. He has struggled with accuracy but shows plenty of potential and plenty of leg strength.

In Vegas

Marshall sits as a 5.5 point favorite over WKU. The over/under is 45.

My Pick

I expect this to be a defensive battle for the most part. Whichever offense can hit its stride first will have a great advantage. I expect a close game, most likely whoever has the ball last. Western at 5.5 seems like a good take win or lose. This WKU defense will prove it is legit and stay undefeated in C-USA play.

Western Kentucky 20 Marshall 13

Western Kentucky Has Offered Alex Tchikou | WKU Connection

@Tcalex

Western Kentucky has offered 2021 Power forward Alex Tchikou of Wolfeboro, NH. Tchikou attended Findlay Prep in Henderson, NV. A prep school who has produced the likes of Tristan Thompson, PJ Washington, Bol Bol, and Avery Bradley.

Tchikou is rated as a 4 star recruit and #31 overall in the class of 2021 by 247 Sports. (#25 overall by Rivals)

Alex has went from unranked this time last year to a top junior in the country. Tchikou is an athletic power forward who can run the floor and defend the basket. His outside shot needs improvement as well as his frame before making the jump to the next level.

He holds offers from Texas A&M, Baylor, Kansas, UCLA, and Nebraska.

JJ Traynor Unlikely To Commit To WKU | WKU Connection

@JJTraynor20

As you know recruiting is one of the lifelines of this website and we strive to bring updates on recruits with quick and accurate information.

Therefore, I hate to say it, but it appears WKU is out of the running for 4 Star Bardstown prospect JJ Traynor in the class of 2020. In a post published yesterday we detailed JJ’s connection to UofL and how they are the clear front runner to land Traynor.

Yesterday this news proved even more true when Traynor posted this to his Instagram page:

Image

It’s almost certain Traynor’s decision will be between UofL, and Cincinnati. An offer from Kentucky could possibly slide them into this list as well.

With the news of WKU likely being out of the picture for Traynor the question now to be asked is, who does Rick Stansbury look for to be the center piece of the 2020 class?

JJ Traynor Decision Update + Recruiting Weekend Recap | WKU Connection

@JJTraynor20

Earlier today a source close to 4 star prospect JJ Traynor reported that Traynor’s timetable for a decision is currently set in November, but could be delayed.

We know that Traynor was in attendance Thursday night for Hilltopper Hysteria on an unofficial visit. Traynor was also in Louisville Saturday morning to attend a UofL practice in the KFC Yum Center. Since Louisville head coach Chris Mack offered JJ last week mutual interest has been established between the two. 247 Sports views Louisville’s recruitment of Traynor as “warm” according to their metrics. The advantage Louisville holds over everyone else right now is JJ’s High School Coach James Brewer played for Louisville in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Something to keep in mind.

WKU Head Coach Rick Stansbury was the first to officially offer Traynor back in April of this year and has been regularly in contact with him ever since. Making frequent visits to Bardstown to watch Traynor its safe to say he is Stansbury’s top target in the 2020 class.

UPDATE: Traynor now viewed as “unlikely’ to commit to Western Kentucky.

Zion Harmon

@Hawkedits

2021 4 star prospect Zion Harmon was on his official visit over the weekend attending Hilltopper Hysteria Thursday night and Saturdays Football game against Charlotte.

Western Kentucky is the first official visit for Harmon. With 4 more official visits to take it is likely he will visit Murray State, Louisville, Kansas, Seton Hall, LSU, and Kentucky to finish out his top 7. WKU getting the first official visit for Harmon does hold some weight as it has been rumored Harmon could reclassify to the 2020 class.

Brooks Barnhizer

2021 SF Brooks Barnhizer of Lafayette, IN was on his official visit this past weekend. Western Kentucky extended an offer to Barnhizer in July. A source close to Barnhizer confirmed the visit went well, impressing Barnhizer.

WKU makes a Small Jump in USA Today Poll | WKU Connection

After the 4th conference win of the season and now 4 wins in a row WKU keeps moving up the ladder in the latest USA Today poll to number 67. This is a 7 spot jump from last week.

In week 1 USA Today had WKU at 114, week 2 they had WKU ranked 130, week 3 they had WKU 116, in week 4 WKU was ranked 117, in week 5 WKU was ranked 117, and in week 6 WKU was ranked 103, and in week 7 WKU was ranked 74th. Since WKU is on the road at Marshall this week if they get another win you could see WKU jump into the top 50. WKU ranks 3rd in Conference USA ahead of Southern Miss, Marshall, FAU, North Texas, FIU, Middle Tennessee, Charlotte, UTSA, ODU, Rice, and UTEP.

The full rankings are linked below:

Marshall – 76th

FAU – 78th

Arkansas – 110th

Southern Miss – 72nd

Middle Tennessee – 114th

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2019/10/21/college-football-ncaa-re-rank-ohio-state-top-wisconsin-michigan-fall/4045261002/