BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — WKU Football wrapped up its Tuesday evening practice as the
Hilltoppers prepare for this Saturday’s game against Conference USA foe Old
Dominion. Kick off at Houchens-Smith Stadium is set for 6:30 p.m. CT with the game
being streamed on ESPN+.
The contest will mark the 1,000th game in program history, coincidentally – yet
appropriately – coming in the 100th season of Hilltopper Football. Four of those
games have been against the Monarchs, all being wins, over the past four years since
WKU joined C-USA.
Historically, the matchups have been high-scoring, with the Hilltoppers coming
through with wins of 66-51 in 2014, 55-30 in 2015, 59-24 in 2016 and 35-31 last
season in head coach Mike Sanford’s first year at the helm.
Trailing 31-21 in the fourth quarter, former quarterback Mike White led a comeback
with a pair of touchdown passes in the span of 1:22. With 7:41 remaining, the senior
gunslinger hit wide receiver Quin Jernighan for a 30-yard score to put the
Hilltoppers ahead 35-31, and the defense held the lead.
White reached five touchdown passes for the second-straight game, and was named
Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week the following Monday.
This season, 1-6 Old Dominion ranks 121st in the nation in scoring defense (allowing
an average of 39.1 points per game) and 128th in total defense (allowing 521.6 yards
per game). Still, Sanford knows the Monarchs are much more capable than their record
shows, case-in-point a 49-35 victory over No. 13 Virginia Tech on Sept. 22.
“You put on the tape, they’re a 1-6 football team, but they might be the most
talented team in our league from top to bottom, up there with Marshall and FAU, I
really believe that.”
He continued, “You see a team that’s dangerous and capable of doing all the things.
Their one victory is against one of the top teams in America, in Virginia Tech. This
game of football, every week’s different, every week’s unique.”
WKU boasts leading rusher Joshua Samuel, who has posted 231 yards on the ground, as
well as wideouts Jernighan, Lucky Jackson and Jacquez Sloan, who have recorded 287,
334 and 237 receiving yards, respectively, so far this year.
Despite a 1-5 record, there is still the second half of the season to turn things
around for the Hilltoppers, and seniors like quarterback Drew Eckels are preaching
to the entire team.
“It’s all a learning experience. Everyone goes through adversity, it’s just how you
react,” Eckels said. “The younger guys look up to the seniors, to our group. We’re
trying to let them know what road to take, instead of just hanging your head and
being negative. You have to fight through it and you have to answer with the right