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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
ECU 58
FRES 52
Final
CIN 59
NCCU 50
 
12:00pm Today
UNC
BUT
2:30pm Today
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HAW
5:00pm Tonight
DUKE
FUR
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
POR
7:00pm Tonight
NCSU
RICH
 
7:30pm Tonight
FLA
CAR
Final
WAS 102
ATL 106
Final
MIA 97
GSW 114
Final
MIL 98
DET 86
Final
NOP 89
SAC 99
Final
DEN 114
CHI 109
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
BRK
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
GSW
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
POR
7:00pm Tonight
CLE
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7:30pm Tonight
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7:30pm Tonight
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7:30pm Tonight
ATL
TOR
8:00pm Tonight
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SAC
8:00pm Tonight
OKC
UTA
8:30pm Tonight
SAN
IND
9:00pm Tonight
PHO
DEN
10:30pm Tonight
LAL
MEM
Final
UMO 21
OHIO 24
Final
ECU 58
FRES 52
Final
ELON 74
MRGST 73
 
Final
MIZZ 61
PURD 82
Final
MAR 55
HAW 62
Final
UNF 77
LIB 57
 
Final
CHAM 85
BYU 121
Final
BUCK 58
MDES 55
Final
UGST 85
WCU 70
Final
UWGB 64
EVAN 62
Final
ARST 71
ALA 76
Final
OHIO 69
ARKPB 60
 
Final
UNH 75
BU 68
 
Final
OU 70
CHIST 57
Final
TOL 79
DET 82
Final
CLMB 57
FD 47
 
Final
QUIN 50
HART 54
 
Final
SFLA 71
HOF 70
Final
HARV 84
HOU 63
Final
BONA 79
JST 71
 
Final
STJOE 74
LIU 70
 
Final
SYR 70
GHND 37
 
Final
MLOWELL 102
MTIDA 57
 
Final
CIN 59
NCCU 50
 
Final
VT 54
NIOWA 73
Final
WOFF 82
OHVALLEY 54
 
Final
TEMPL 76
PENN 67
Final
RUTG 50
PETE 68
Final
BGU 62
SEMIZ 54
Final
LAS 73
Terriers 60
 
Final
UVA 79
TENST 36
Final
KENT 92
TXARL 44
Final
FSU 66
CITA 55
Final
PBY 63
TOCC 40
 
Final
COOK 56
TENNM 74
 
Final
WMARY 83
WILL 49
Final
USB 71
WKENT 61
 
Final
HIGH 88
WMPEACE 71
 
Final
SMU 72
ARK 78
Final
ARMY 80
BING 54
 
Final
CSOU 80
CARK 67
 
Final
UMBC 54
HOW 68
 
Final
ARZ 72
KYST 68
Final
OREG 63
VCU 77
Final
PSU 78
AKR 72
Final
SCST 92
CIU 55
 
Final
CREI 75
EILL 53
Final
ALAAM 61
JVST 67
 
Final
ABCHRIST 91
JCHR 65
 
Final
TXSA 57
LOYC 71
Final
NDST 64
MNCROOK 63
 
Final
NEB 80
NEOM 67
Final
VANDY 63
NORST 53
 
Final
STLU 57
NCAT 54
 
Final
MTST 65
NARZ 53
Final
TTU 75
NWST 64
 
Final
TULA 74
SOUTH 59
 
Final
ILLCH 87
STXAVIER 76
 
Final
TEX 78
RFLSH 46
Final
BRAD 52
TAMCC 38
 
Final
SMISS 72
TROY 70
Final
DRAK 73
IUPUI 60
Final
ARKST 58
LAM 63
 
Final
FLGC 62
USF 47
Final
COL 68
AFA 53
Final
IDAHO 75
BSU 86
Final
GRCN 64
BUF 80
 
Final
ORU 52
LALAF 76
Final
CHAR 74
MIAMI 77
Final
ISU 63
MD 72
Final
UMO 46
NW 55
Final
SACST 97
BRISTOL 63
 
Final
MICH 55
VILL 60
Final
SDST 74
PITT 57
Final
USC 53
CSFU 49
Final
STAN 84
DEL 47
12:00pm Today
UNC
BUT
12:00pm Today
FRES
MAR
12:00pm Today
CHAT
RMU
12:00pm Today
EMICH
ROCH
 
1:30pm Today
MRGST
LIB
 
2:00pm Today
HAMP
AMER
 
2:00pm Today
BEL
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2:00pm Today
UMASS
NE
 
2:00pm Today
JMU
SHU
 
2:00pm Today
KNST
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2:30pm Today
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HAW
2:30pm Today
CHAM
MIZZ
 
2:30pm Today
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2:30pm Today
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4:00pm Today
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4:00pm Today
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4:30pm Today
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5:00pm Tonight
BYU
PURD
 
6:00pm Tonight
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7:00pm Tonight
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7:00pm Tonight
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7:00pm Tonight
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DAVID
 
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7:00pm Tonight
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ND
GRAM
 
7:00pm Tonight
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7:00pm Tonight
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7:00pm Tonight
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7:00pm Tonight
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SD
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9:05pm Tonight
EWASH
NKENTUCKY
 
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IDST
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UGA
 
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Final
CLB 2
WIN 4
Final
NAS 4
LOS 3
Final
STL 2
OTT 3
Final
DAL 3
EDM 2
Final
ARI 3
COL 4
Final
ANA 3
CAL 2
Final
VAN 2
NJD 0
7:00pm Tonight
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