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Bowling Green (0-0) at Western Kentucky (0-0)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Friday, August 29, 7:30 p.m. (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium (22,113) -- Bowling Green, Kentucky. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: BGSU 0-0, WKU 0-0. Away Record: BGSU 0-0, WKU 0-0. Neutral Record: BGSU 0-0, WKU 0-0. Conference Record: BGSU 0-0, WKU 0-0. Series Record: Bowling Green leads, 1-0.

GAME NOTES: Two new head coaches will be on the sidelines when the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers battle the Bowling Green Falcons in a non-conference bout on opening weekend at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium.

The head coaching job for the Hilltoppers has become a revolving door of sorts, with Jeff Brohm the third head coach in as many years. Last season Bobby Petrino held the job, helping the team to an 8-4 record and using that success as a springboard to nab his former position at Louisville. Brohm is more likely to stay for several years considering this is his first head coaching gig. It is not the only first for the Hilltoppers, as they are entering their debut season as a member of Conference USA.

Bowling Green produced one of its best seasons in program history in 2013. The Falcons went 10-4, blasted past would-be BCS-buster Northern Illinois in the Mid-American Conference title game (47-27) before playing in one of the more exciting bowl games against Pittsburgh in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. The 10 wins were the most for the team since 2003, and it was just the fifth time it reached double digits since 1962. However, like WKU, the Falcons have a new head coach in Dino Babers, who takes over after Dave Clawson moved on to Wake Forest.

These teams met for the first time in 2007, with Bowling Green rolling to a 41-21 triumph

WKU was one of the best offensive teams in the Sun Belt Conference last year, ranking second in total yards (458.5 ypg) while scoring a healthy 30.8 ppg. An increased level of competition may drop those numbers a bit, but not by much.

Brandon Doughty retains his position as starting quarterback after an up and down junior season. Doughty threw for 2,857 yards and completed 65.8 percent of his pass attempts, but he was also prone to mistakes, tallying as many touchdowns as interceptions (14). His yardage total and completion percentage were program records so if he cleans up his sloppy play, the Hilltoppers should be in good shape.

That is especially true if Willie McNeal and Taywan Taylor can produce on the outside. McNeal was Doughty's favorite target last season, leading the team in receptions (46), yards (599) and touchdowns (five). Taylor had 25 grabs for 305 yards and two scores, while tight end Mitchell Henry (25 receptions, 305 yards, two TDs) has sure hands as well.

The biggest challenge facing coach Brohm and the Hilltoppers is replacing departed running back Antonio Andrews, who piled up 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground alone last season. Leon Allen (357 yards, five TDs) was the primary backup and gets a chance to be the feature back in 2014.

Picking up yards wasn't WKU's only strength last season, as it was also one of the stingier defensive squads around. The Hilltoppers ranked 14th in the country in yards allowed (339.2 ypg). The unit is largely retooling this year, especially at linebacker where three new starters enter the fray. The best part of the group is in the trenches, with Gavin Rocker (37 tackles), Bryan Shorter (18 tackles) and Devante Terrell (33 tackles) all experienced producers along the defensive line.

The Hilltoppers will get a real test right out of the gate with Bowling Green, a team that was among the top-30 scoring squads in the country last year (34.8 ppg). The Falcons also ranked in the top-30 in total offense (459.4 ypg).

Although the receiving corps isn't loaded, the Falcons should be just fine under center with the return of Matt Johnson. The redshirt junior, who landed himself on a few preseason award watch lists following a breakout 2013 campaign, is the key for a big follow-up to last season. Johnson threw for 3,467 yards and 25 touchdowns on 64.2 percent completions. Even more important, Johnson avoided costly mistakes, tossing a mere seven interceptions.

Leading receiver Shaun Joplin (54 receptions, 908 yards, three TDs) graduated so a new No. 1 target needs to be found. Heath Jackson (32 receptions, 364 yards, three TDs), Ryan Burbrink (30 receptions, 477 yards, two TDs) and Ronnie Moore (28 receptions, 547 yards, seven TDs) are the top candidates, with Moore providing some real excitement with his play-making ability.

Travis Greene rushed for 1,594 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, and he gives the Falcons flexibility so they do not have to lean entirely on Johnson. William Houston served as a hammer in the red zone, scoring 11 touchdowns while tallying just 211 yards.

Bowling Green was the best defensive team in the MAC last season, and among the best in the country as well. The Falcons ranked 10th nationally in yards allowed (321.4 ypg). Their main strength was in slowing the pass, finishing sixth in the nation in that department (170.9 ypg). A step backward may be in the cards this season, with the only returning starter in the secondary being safety Ryland Ward (81 tackles, two INTs).

Both Brohm and Babers have inherited talented teams coming off of impressive seasons. While the Hilltoppers have some strength on offense, the loss of Andrews will be tough to overcome. Meanwhile, the Falcons offense looks poised to keep the tempo up and the points flowing.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bowling Green 38, Western Kentucky 27

08/29 15:15:06 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CHI 5
CAR 2
Final
SAV 49
NCCU 62
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
LAL
 
7:00pm Tonight
GT
UNC
 
9:00pm Tonight
CLEM
NCSU
 
Final
MIA 7
FIU 2
 
Final
DET 12
FLASO 2
 
1:05pm Today
DET
BAL
 
1:05pm Today
MIA
MIAFLA
 
1:05pm Today
PHI
NYY
 
1:05pm Today
BOS
NEASTERN
 
1:07pm Today
TOR
PIT
 
3:05pm Today
CIN
CLE
 
3:05pm Today
OAK
SFG
 
4:05pm Today
BOS
BOSTONCOLL
 
5:10pm Tonight
ARI
ASU
 
Final
PHI 103
TOR 114
Final
BRK 110
GSW 108
Final
MIA 115
PHO 98
Final
MIN 105
LAC 110
Final
DAL 102
NOP 93
7:00pm Tonight
CLE
BOS
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
LAL
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYK
SAC
 
7:30pm Tonight
ATL
HOU
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
UTA
 
8:00pm Tonight
CHI
WAS
 
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
MIL
 
Final
TEX 61
BAY 59
Final
SYR 47
UVA 59
Final
SHSU 76
CARK 49
 
Final
NWST 92
SELA 79
 
Final
NCAT 67
COOK 50
 
Final
HOW 61
NORST 59
 
Final
DELST 85
HAMP 75
 
Final
STEPH 83
INCWORD 62
 
Final
MCNST 70
LAM 69
 
Final
NO 79
NICST 89
 
Final
SAV 49
NCCU 62
 
Final
ALAAM 75
TXSOU 77
 
Final
VT 59
BC 66
Final
MVSU 66
GRAM 62
 
Final
ISU 77
OKLA 70
Final
ALAST 65
PVU 67
 
Final
ARKPB 64
JST 62
 
7:00pm Tonight
UMO
AKR
 
7:00pm Tonight
NAVY
ARMY
 
7:00pm Tonight
BST
EMICH
 
7:00pm Tonight
BUT
GEOR
 
7:00pm Tonight
IND
IOWA
 
7:00pm Tonight
FLGC
JVU
 
7:00pm Tonight
USCU
KNST
 
7:00pm Tonight
BGU
KSU
 
7:00pm Tonight
NKENTUCKY
LIP
 
7:00pm Tonight
HC
GHND
 
7:00pm Tonight
RUTG
MD
 
7:00pm Tonight
GT
UNC
 
7:00pm Tonight
BUF
OHIO
 
7:00pm Tonight
ALA
MISS
 
7:00pm Tonight
DAY
RIU
 
7:00pm Tonight
CMICH
TOL
 
7:00pm Tonight
DET
YOUNG
 
7:30pm Tonight
UNF
STET
 
8:00pm Tonight
ABCHRIST
HOUB
 
8:00pm Tonight
NDAK
NEOM
 
8:00pm Tonight
NILL
WMICH
 
8:00pm Tonight
ILLCH
WRST
 
9:00pm Tonight
MIZZ
AUB
 
9:00pm Tonight
UGA
KENT
 
9:00pm Tonight
NW
MICH
 
9:00pm Tonight
CLEM
NCSU
 
9:00pm Tonight
UF
TEXAM
 
9:00pm Tonight
KU
WVU
 
9:15pm Tonight
CREI
VILL
 
Final
NYR 4
NAS 1
Final
CHI 5
CAR 2
Final
SJS 4
MON 0
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
CAL
 
7:00pm Tonight
NJD
NAS
 
7:00pm Tonight
CLB
WAS
 
7:30pm Tonight
TAM
BUF
 
7:30pm Tonight
FLA
TOR
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
OTT
 
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
NYI
 
9:00pm Tonight
ARI
ANA
 
9:30pm Tonight
EDM
LOS
 
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
SJS