TOPPER EXTRA: Five keys to the game

Redshirt senior offensive lineman Forrest Lamp (76) blocks a Middle Tennessee defensive tackle Raynard Felton (97) during the fist half of the WKU v MTSU football game on Saturday, Oct. 15, at Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Kathryn Ziesig/HERALD

Jeremy Chisenhall

WKU’s matchup against the University of North Texas is going to be one that sees WKU’s explosive offense going up against one of the better pass defenses they’ll see all year.

WKU’s high-octane passing game will have to be on its game, and the front seven will have to continue to succeed against the run. Here are some keys to the game.

1. Quarterback play

WKU’s redshirt junior quarterback Mike White has an obvious advantage over North Texas quarterback Mason Fine when looking at the numbers.

Fine has only 1,563 yards, 6 touchdowns and a passer rating of 114.9. White on the other hand has 3,057 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and a 176.6 passer rating.

However, WKU ranks seventh in the nation in most passing yards allowed, as they’ve allowed 2,731 total passing yards this year.

That will give Fine the potential to have a big game, making for a good matchup between the two. But regardless of WKU’s defense problems, White has better weapons around him.

2. The receivers matchup

WKU has a massive advantage in the receiver matchup that they could exploit. The Hilltoppers have the No. 2 and No. 5 ranked receivers in C-USA in receiving yards in Taywan Taylor and Nicholas Norris.

Taylor and Norris have combined for 2,108 receiving yards. North Texas’ top two receivers, Thaddeous Thompson and Terian Goree, have 736 yards combined, which is less than both Norris and Taylor individually.

UNT’s entire receiving core has just 8 touchdowns combined this season, where as Norris and Taylor each have 10 individually.

3. Pass coverage

WKU’s struggles in pass defense were documented earlier, but UNT’s pass defense is far better than WKU’s.

The Mean Green have allowed just 1,875 passing yards this year, and they’re tied for 22nd in the country in interceptions with 11.

That ballhawking effort is led by UNT defensive back Kishawn McClain, who ranks second in C-USA in interceptions with three.

White will get one of his toughest tests in the passing game this week when trying to connect with Taylor, Norris and the rest of his receiving options.

4. Rushing defense

While WKU’s secondary isn’t as strong as UNT’s, their front seven certainly are.

UNT has allowed 1,838 rushing yards this year, and 4.7 yards per carry, which ranks them 30th in the nation for most rushing yards allowed.

WKU, on the other hand, is ranked 24th in the nation in fewest rushing yards allowed, as they’ve averaged 1,081, and an average of just 3.2 yards per carry.

This advantage will not only help the defense, but it also helps redshirt senior running back Anthony “Ace” Wales, who has been one of the best running backs in the conference.

5. The run game

The rushing attack is probably the fairest battle between these two teams. Wales has been one of the best running backs in C-USA, totaling 936 yards and 17 touchdowns, which ranks first in the conference.

However, UNT’s Jeffrey Wilson has done nearly as well as Wales.

Wilson has the second-most rushing touchdowns in the conference with 13, and 833 rushing yards, which ranks just two spots behind Wales in the conference.

WKU either holds a major advantage or is mismatched in just about every other aspect of the game, but the run game is a pretty equal battle going into the game.