Rice will provide crucial challenge

John Reecer is the sports editor of the College Heights Herald during the spring 2016 semester.

John Reecer

It’s that time.

It’s finally football game day once again on the Hill. However, I have to be a bit of a mood killer.

It seems like most people are underestimating the importance of this game. Most are even chalking up WKU’s first game against Rice University as an easy win as the Hilltoppers defeated the Owls 49-10 last season.

It does seem like on paper WKU is easily the better team, but this game is incredibly important for the Toppers this season.

First off, this game is a must-win for WKU considering they are playing a conference opponent who will more than likely not finish the season with a good record.

Good football teams beat the teams they are expected to beat. It’s just that simple.

I am picking the Toppers to defeat Rice along with just about everyone else, however the question of if WKU will win isn’t what makes this game important.

What makes this game so important is just how much the Toppers will win by.

Confidence is one of the most important aspects in sports. Now, just imagine a new starting quarterback playing a rough game against a team like Rice.

Doesn’t sound that bad? Well now imagine that same quarterback having to turn around the very next week and play the defense of the defending National Champions in the confines of their stadium.

It’s crucial for redshirt junior quarterback Mike White to play well against the Owls so he can have some confidence before facing what might be the best defense in the nation.

The University of Alabama plays WKU in an absolute trap game wedged in between huge showdowns with the University of Southern California and the University of Mississippi.

I’m not saying the Toppers can beat the Crimson Tide, but much stranger things have happened in college football during the past five years.

However, WKU doesn’t stand a chance against the Crimson Tide if they play poorly against Rice. After that, a domino effect could occur and truly set the Toppers back a number of weeks.

Quarterback is also not the only position in which the Toppers will need to play well. The defense lost most of its starters from last season, including both starting cornerbacks.

In a pass-happy league like Conference USA, WKU’s young corners need to play well early on against Rice to also build up their confidence.

And let’s also not forget that the positions of tight end and kicker will also see a bit of a downgrade this season with former WKU greats Tyler Higbee and Garrett Schwettman leaving due to graduation.

With so many questions still facing the team heading into week one, don’t expect all of them to get answered after a match up with a lowly C-USA opponent.

The Toppers need time to grow before these questions can all be answered.

However, the Toppers are easily the better overall team against Rice, and they need to leave no doubt out on the field tonight if they want to be taken as seriously as they were last season.

And one side note: support your school and make it out to the ballgame. This was a ranked team last season in Division I football. They deserve a sellout.

Reporter John Reecer can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @Reece_12_Falcon.