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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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Local
Final
UNC 82
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Final
MVSU 60
NCCU 94
 
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UNCW 66
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Final
CAR 2
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Final
CHA 104
UTA 86
Final
WVU 83
NCSU 69
1:00pm Today
CAR
CLE
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
CAR
 
Final
NYK 90
PHO 99
Final
NOP 88
POR 114
Final
CHA 104
UTA 86
Final
HOU 97
ATL 104
Final
DAL 99
SAN 93
Final
DEN 76
IND 73
Final
LAC 106
MIL 102
3:30pm Today
TOR
NYK
 
4:30pm Today
CLE
MEM
 
6:00pm Tonight
MIA
BOS
 
6:00pm Tonight
BRK
DET
 
6:00pm Tonight
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LAL
 
6:00pm Tonight
ORL
PHI
 
6:00pm Tonight
WAS
PHO
 
7:00pm Tonight
MIN
IND
 
7:00pm Tonight
OKC
NOP
 
Final
LALAF 16
NEV 3
Final
UTEP 6
UTST 21
Final
COLST 10
UTAH 45
Final
AFA 38
WMICH 24
Final
BGU 33
SALABAMA 28
Final
GEOR 81
CHAR 78
Final
WKENT 67
LOU 76
Final
MICH 51
SMU 62
Final
CIN 47
VCU 68
Final
BSU 77
ABCHRIST 33
 
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PROV 85
UMASS 65
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AMER 46
MNTER 45
 
Final
UNC 82
OSU 74
Final
IUPUI 71
SALA 65
 
Final
VILL 82
SYR 77
Final
VT 64
CITA 61
Final
DUQ 79
MLOWELL 63
 
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FAIR 61
BEL 73
 
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YALE 60
GTDNS 64
 
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FD 76
DEL 74
 
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PSU 73
DREX 68
Final
UNCG 64
ELON 71
 
Final
ILL 62
MIZZ 59
Final
CAMP 90
MONT 64
 
Final
LONG 106
PSUBEAVER 74
 
Final
HOU 63
SCST 71
 
Final
FSU 75
SFLA 62
Final
BING 51
BONA 69
 
Final
RUTG 68
RFLSH 73
 
Final
MCNST 69
TOL 83
 
Final
JVU 84
TRUETT 55
 
Final
GT 65
VANDY 60
Final
INDST 56
EILL 60
 
Final
BUT 73
IND 82
Final
STEPH 94
ARTCH 57
 
Final
OREG 83
DELST 70
 
Final
Terriers 61
FATL 56
 
Final
TXARL 89
HPYN 50
 
Final
KU 96
LAF 69
Final
ARKST 67
MARS 58
Final
MEM 78
ORU 63
Final
KNST 53
UMBC 66
 
Final
NW 67
WMICH 61
Final
MIZST 65
EMICH 77
 
Final
CHIST 76
STJOE 54
 
Final
KENT 83
UCLA 44
Final
COC 68
DAVID 80
Final
RIU 69
DET 55
Final
UCR 78
HOUB 67
 
Final
MURST 89
ILLST 77
 
Final
NWST 89
LALAF 85
 
Final
WAGN 66
MON 74
 
Final
MVSU 60
NCCU 94
 
Final
PITT 81
OU 77
Final
TENNM 77
PBY 60
 
Final
WYO 57
SOUTH 39
 
Final
AFA 75
UCD 81
Final
MSST 51
USCU 53
 
Final
JMU 71
HIGH 80
 
Final
TXST 90
HTILL 56
 
Final
DRAK 54
ISU 83
Final
SHU 73
UNH 60
 
Final
SCU 72
NE 78
 
Final
MSU 64
TXSOU 71
Final
UF 63
WAKE 50
Final
ND 94
PURD 63
Final
SHSU 61
PVU 44
 
Final
AUB 89
XAV 88
Final
AKR 92
BLUFFTON 53
 
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DAY 78
BU 62
 
Final
UNCW 66
ECU 54
Final
CLMB 82
HOF 77
 
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GMAS 86
IONA 81
Final
TOWS 53
LAS 67
Final
MAN 73
MRGST 69
 
Final
CCST 76
YALE 84
 
Final
PEPP 63
RICH 65
Final
MAR 58
STJOE 75
Final
KYST 71
TEXAM 64
Final
MAST 72
VALPO 75
 
Final
UMKC 104
INCWORD 110
 
Final
IDST 50
CALST 59
 
Final
NIOWA 56
IOWA 44
Final
SIUE 61
UWMIL 56
 
Final
TEX 78
LBSU 68
Final
TCU 88
TXSA 57
Final
ARK 84
SEMIZ 67
Final
NCOL 69
JVST 60
 
Final
ARST 81
LEH 84
 
Final
NMST 67
NMU 69
 
Final
WASH 69
OKLA 67
Final
GRCN 81
STED 55
 
Final
WEBER 73
WLVRN 61
 
Final
WVU 83
NCSU 69
Final
SDST 70
BST 57
Final
GONZ 63
CPSL 50
Final
PAC 71
FRES 68
Final
PORT 87
MNTST 60
 
Final
CSNO 68
TAMCC 75
 
Final
UTST 65
SDKST 68
 
Final
BYU 79
STAN 77
Final
UNLV 46
UTAH 59
12:00pm Today
UVA
HARV
 
1:00pm Today
BGU
FERST
 
1:00pm Today
ARMY
MAINE
 
1:00pm Today
QUIN
ORST
 
1:00pm Today
CLST
USF
 
1:30pm Today
CARK
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2:00pm Today
UWGB
ARKLR
 
2:00pm Today
RAD
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2:00pm Today
UNT
CREI
 
2:00pm Today
CAN
HC
 
2:00pm Today
USB
GHND
 
2:00pm Today
OKST
MD
 
2:00pm Today
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2:00pm Today
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2:00pm Today
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3:00pm Today
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3:30pm Today
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4:00pm Today
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4:00pm Today
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4:30pm Today
NICST
TROY
 
4:30pm Today
BRAD
UCI
 
6:00pm Tonight
UGA
SHU
 
6:30pm Tonight
ALA
APP
 
7:00pm Tonight
KSU
NDST
 
7:00pm Tonight
WASU
SJST
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTEP
ALCOR
 
10:00pm Tonight
SEAT
SACST
 
Final
LOS 4
ARI 2
Final
CLB 3
CHI 2
Final
BUF 1
COL 5
Final
PIT 3
FLA 1
Final
CAR 2
NYR 3
Final
MON 4
OTT 1
Final
TOR 4
PHI 7
Final
NYI 3
TAM 1
Final
NJD 0
WAS 4
Final
MIN 5
NAS 6
Final
VAN 3
CAL 2
Final
SJS 3
STL 2
6:00pm Tonight
DET
COL
 
6:00pm Tonight
EDM
DAL
 
7:00pm Tonight
BOS
BUF
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
CAR
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
TOR
 
9:00pm Tonight
WIN
PHI
 
Final
WAS 27
PHI 24
Final
SFX 35
SDC 38
1:00pm Today
NOS
ATL
1:00pm Today
HOU
BAL
1:00pm Today
CAR
CLE
1:00pm Today
CHI
DET
1:00pm Today
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KAN
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