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extra Your source for WKU sports • October 30, 2012

Veteran D-line starring for WKU see page 4

Tops take on rival MTSU see page 3

6-2 Toppers looking for bowl see page 5

Blue Raiders to watch see page 7

PHOTO BY JON HERNANDEZ


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OCTOBER 30, 2012 • TOPPER EXTRA • WKUHERALD.COM

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OCTOBER 30, 2012 • TOPPER EXTRA • WKUHERALD.COM

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Toppers face MTSU in high-stakes game LUCAS AULBACH

SPORTS@WKUHERALD.COM

When WKU faced Middle Tennessee in Murfreesboro on Oct. 6 last season, the Toppers were winless through four games and looking for a spark to get them on the right track. The stakes will be a little different when the Blue Raiders come to town on Thursday. The Toppers beat a 1-3 MTSU team in double-overtime in that game and proceeded to sweep the rest of their Sun Belt Conference schedule en route to a 7-5 season. When WKU (6-2, 3-1 SBC) takes on MTSU (5-3, 3-1 SBC) in Smith Stadium at 8:15 p.m. on Thursday, the game will be more about bowl positioning than saving a season. “This year is totally different,” coach Willie Taggart said. “Both teams are playing well and both teams have a lot to play for.” Senior defensive end Cole Tischer, coming off of a two-sack game, said the Toppers know MTSU will be looking for revenge. “They’ll definitely be looking for a win, just like we’re going to be looking to beat them,” Tischer said. “That double-overtime win was fun. That’s all I can say.” While the Blue Raiders need one more win to become bowl-eligible, the Toppers earned eligibility on Saturday with a 14-6 road win over Florida International. They have four more regular season games to jockey for the best bowl berth they can receive. Athletics Director Todd Stewart said representatives from several bowls have all seen WKU play this season. Bowl reps will have a chance to watch WKU this week as well — the game will be televised nationally on ESPNU. The national TV audience will watch the Toppers deal with one of the Sun Belt’s best quarterback-receiver combinations, junior passer Logan Kilgore and senior wide receiver Anthony Amos.

Kilgore has thrown for 1,930 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. Amos is his favorite target. The senior leads the Sun Belt in receptions (53), receiving yards (794) and receiving yards per game (99.2). His 794 receiving yards are more than double that of MTSU’s second-leading receiver. Sophomore safety Jonathan Dowling, WKU’s answer for opposing deep-threats at receiver, said he’s preparing for Amos as he would for any other opponent. “We don’t feel one person can just beat us,” Dowling said. “I’m going to prepare

for their whole offense, not just him.” WKU will take part in its second and final Thursday game of the season this week. The Toppers beat Troy on the road in their last Thursday night game. This time, the Toppers will have the benefit of playing this month in front of a home crowd. Expectations for fan turnout are high — WKU has already played in front of the largest and second-largest home crowds in school history this season, and the first 5,000 fans to show up on Thursday will receive a free red towel.

Stewart said he thinks the Thursday game will attract students. “To me, Thursday is what it’s about for students, because it’s a game during the week,” he said. “It’s not a Saturday game where people may be going home. It’s a Thursday night game, it’s national TV, and we need our students to be out in full force.” Taggart said fans should expect an exciting game against the Blue Raiders. “Both teams are hungry and both teams want something special,” he said. “We’ll see who wants it the most.”

Safety Ryan Beard sacks MTSU quarterback Logan Kilgore in the fourth quarter of WKU's 36-33 win over the Blue Raiders last October in Floyd Stadium. The teams meet again at 8:15 p.m. Thursday in Smith Stadium. CHRISTIAN RANDOLPH/HERALD


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OCTOBER 30, 2012 • TOPPER EXTRA • WKUHERALD.COM

D-Line coming off dominating performance against FIU LUCAS AULBACH

SPORTS@WKUHERALD.COM

Coach Willie Taggart calls his offensive and defensive linemen ‘the tunnel workers’ because they’re the unnoticed heroes of the WKU football team. The defensive line had a heroic performance against Florida International on Saturday, a night when not much else went right for the Toppers. The line — comprised of four starting seniors — recorded nine sacks on the night. Defensive end Quanterus Smith led the way with five, a Sun Belt Conference single-game record. Fellow end Cole Tischer had two sacks, while tackles Jamarcus Allen and Rammell Lewis each added one of their own. WKU defensive end Quanterus Smith tackles Kentucky wide receiver La'Rod King during WKU's Sept. 15 win over the Wildcats. Smith Taggart said the linemen were the dif- set a Sun Belt Conference single-game record on Saturday with five sacks in a win against Florida International. JABIN BOTSFORD/ ference-makers against FIU in the 14-6 HERALD WKU win. “Our d-line has been playing outstand- les’ back in the day to now, they’re a more credit for some of those sacks has to go to are playing in their last season of eligibiling all year long,” he said. “It’s great to see mature group,” Mathies said. the man playing next to him. ity — Allen has already graduated with a because all of those guys have been playSmith was the star on Saturday, but When Allen rushes the quarterback, degree in sociology. ing since freshmen.” don’t call it a breakout game — he came Smith said, the tackle puts him in a posiOf the 10 defensive linemen that aren’t The Topper linemen have grown up into the game with 6.5 sacks on the year tion to make a play from the outside of seniors currently on the WKU roster, eight with the WKU football program. WKU and currently leads the NCAA in sacks the line. are freshmen. went 0-12 in 2009, the first season of eli- per game (1.64) while holding a tie for the “If (offensive linemen) see him coming Tischer said the underclassmen undergibility for the four starters — this year, lead in total sacks (11.5) and sack yards inside, they might want to step outside,” stand that their time to step up for the they’ve helped the Toppers get off to a 6-2 (79). Smith said. “It benefits.” program is coming. start. Taggart said Smith's five-sack perforAllen, a three-year starter, is a team cap“They’re out here every day working as They have grown into the strongest de- mance against FIU was the result of hard tain and vocal leader for the Topper dehard as we are doing what they do,” he fensive line in the Sun Belt Conference, work in the offseason. fense. ranking No. 1 in the league rushing de“That doesn’t happen every day in colMathies said Allen has earned the re- said. They also have the benefit of playing befense and sacks. lege football, and it’s good for Q to be able spect of his teammates by giving his all on Defensive line coach Eric Mathies has to do that,” Taggart said. “The guy’s been every down, calling the tackle a “warrior.” hind seniors who have seen it all. Taggart said the defensive line has seen the linemen grow up. He said the working his tail off over the last few years “I’ve watched the film — the kid doesn’t struggles helped the starters and older re- and he’s starting to reap the benefits of take plays off,” he said. “He plays hard grown into the strength of the Topper deserves, such as senior Kenny Martin, grow working hard.” every snap and it helped in his develop- fense in the past five years. “They’ve been puppies and now they’re to become a determined crew. Smith, who was named Sun Belt de- ment, too.” “You’ve seen them and you see them on fensive player of the week for the second The WKU defensive line will have a full-grown dogs, and they’re barking and the field — they went from the ‘Tiny Tack- time this year on Monday, said a lot of whole new look next year. All four starters they’re helping our football team.”


OCTOBER 30, 2012 • TOPPER EXTRA • WKUHERALD.COM

WKU Bowl Projections Jerry Palm, CBS Sports Toledo vs. WKU Little Caesars Bowl Dec. 26, Detroit

Mark Schlabach, ESPN Kent State vs. WKU GoDaddy.com Bowl Jan. 6, Mobile, Ala.

Brad Edwards, ESPN Toledo vs. WKU GoDaddy.com Bowl Jan. 6, Mobile, Ala.

College Football News Northern Illinois vs. WKU GoDaddy.com Bowl Jan. 6, Mobile, Ala.

Bill Bender, Sporting News Houston vs. WKU Beef O'Brady's Bowl Dec. 21, St. Petersburg, Fla.

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WKU talking with several bowls BRAD STEPHENS

SPORTS@WKUHERALD.COM

A familiar process is going on in WKU’s athletic department, although this time the school is hoping for a different result. WKU athletic representatives are currently pitching the 6-2 Topper football team to bowl sites and talking with representatives from a number of bowls. The school has also begun taking ticket reservations from fans for a potential bowl game. One season ago, WKU took these same steps, but the 7-5 Toppers were snubbed from the bowl process, becoming the only team with a winning record not to receive a bowl bid in 2011. This year, athletics director Todd Stewart said, the school is doing everything it can do to avoid the same outcome. “The main thing we’re trying to do is have non-stop dialogue with the bowls,” Stewart said. The Sun Belt Conference has two direct bowl ties, the New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 22, New Orleans) and the GoDaddy.com Bowl (Jan. 6, Mobile, Ala.) Neither one of those bowls is contractually obligated to take the Sun Belt champion, though the two bowls would be a likely landing spot for a team that finished near the top of the league standings. But several other bowls could take a Sun Belt team if the conferences with which the bowls are affiliated don’t have enough teams reach the six-win bowl eligibility threshold. For example, the BBVA Compass Bowl (Jan. 5, Birmingham, Ala.) is contractually obligated to match an SEC team against a

Screen shot of the wkusports.com home page advertising WKU's bowl eligibility. Big East team. However, neither league may have enough teams eligible, opening the door for an at-large team like the Toppers. “I think it’s a better situation than last year in terms of where there’ll be openings,” Stewart said. A GoDaddy.com Bowl rep was in Miami last weekend when the Toppers beat Florida International. Harold Graeter, associate executive director of the Liberty Bowl, attended the Toppers’ Oct. 20 home loss to LouisianaMonroe. And a Beef O’ Brady's bowl

representative was on hand Sept. 22 for WKU’s home win against Southern Mississippi. “Just like we’re talking to a number of bowls, should we be an at-large team needing a home, (bowls) do the same thing too,” Stewart said. “They do their homework.” A big part of a team appearing attractive to bowl suitors is fan support, Stewart said. Therefore, just minutes after WKU beat FIU on Saturday to become bowl eligible, a landing page appeared on WKUsports. com asking fans to reserve bowl tickets. Fans can put down a single

$10 deposit to reserve all of their tickets to the bowl game that WKU is chosen to attend. Once the bowl game is decided and ticket prices are released, the $10 deposit will be used toward the overall price of the tickets bought. If WKU isn’t selected for a bowl, those that put down a deposit will receive a full refund. But Stewart said WKU isn’t hoping that any refunds will be issued when the final bowl selections are announced in early December. “If we finish strong and we win, then we’ll be in a great position,” Stewart said.


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OCTOBER 30, 2012 • TOPPER EXTRA • WKUHERALD.COM

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Blue Raiders to watch

Anthony Amos No. 6, Wide Receiver, 5-foot-11, 190 pounds

Logan Kilgore No. 10, Quarterback, 6-foot-3, 194 pounds

Craig Allen No. 35, Linebacker, 6-foot-2 ,230 pounds

Kevin Byard No. 20, Safety, 5-foot-11, 220 pounds

•Leads the Sun Belt Conference with 99.3 yards per game receiving this season. •Had eight catches for 148 yards and a touchdown in a Oct. 13 win over Florida International. •Has 24 more catches than the team's next-leading receiver, junior Kyle Griswould.

•Was Phil Steele's selection as quarterback for the second-team midseason AllSun Belt team. •Is completing 67 percent of his passes this year, trailing only WKU's senior Kawaun Jakes (69.7 percent) in the league. •Threw for a season-high 349 yards on Saturday in a win over North Texas.

•Is third in the Sun Belt this season with 41 solo tackles, and has 61 tackles overall. •Had a season-best 15 tackles in an Oct. 6 loss to Louisiana-Monroe. •Runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 second.

•Was named a second-team midseason all-Sun Belt selection by Phil Steele. •Has 48 tackles, two interceptions and a forced fumble this season. •Returned an interception 68 yards for a touchdown in a Sept. 15 win over Memphis.

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OCTOBER 30, 2012 • TOPPER EXTRA • WKUHERALD.COM


Topper Extra October 30, 2012