Motivated | Hilltoppers look for win at home this weekend

Western Kentucky quarterback Brandon Doughty (12) points upwards after a touchdown is scored in the first half to make it during a NCAA game at Memorial Field, in Bloomington, Ind., Sept. 19. Michael Noble Jr./HERALD

Billy Rutledge

WKU’s loss to Indiana left a bad taste in Hilltoppers’ mouths. 

After leading 28-17 at halftime in Bloomington, Indiana, the Hilltoppers were outscored 21-7 in the second half and were handed their first loss of the season: a 35-38 loss to a Big 10 opponent.

The game was an opportunity for the Hilltoppers to gain their first win ever over a Big 10 team and to extend a seven-game winning streak, which was the fourth longest in the FBS at the time. 

Now, the Hilltoppers’ goal of defeating two Power Five conference opponents is put on hold as they try to regroup from the defeat.

“We’re disappointed we lost against Indiana. I thought our guys did play hard,” Head Coach Jeff Brohm said. “We got off to a good start. We made plays. Unfortunately in the second half, [Indiana] came out and wore us down.”

Brohm described a situation that hadn’t happened in the Tops’ first contests against Vanderbilt and Louisiana Tech. 

“We were not able to stop them, and we had two critical turnovers: a blocked kick and a punt return for a touchdown,” Brohm said. “We’re not a good enough team to overcome that, especially against a Big 10 opponent.” 

WKU’s opponent this weekend is the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks. 

They travel to Bowling Green touting a 1-2 record. Miami defeated Presbyterian, its first opponent of the year, but then fell against Wisconsin and Cincinnati.

WKU and Miami will meet for the first time in the schools’ history, but the Hilltoppers will look to extend a 2-1 record against the Mid-American Conference in the FBS era. 

After the Toppers’ narrow defeat last week, WKU has refocused on its new opponent and is trying to regain its confidence and winning mentality from previous weeks.

“I think we have kind of stressed it all the way up to this point and hounded it … we’re going to have to work hard this week — be the hungrier football team, execute better — or we’re not going to win,” Brohm said. “We have to play well.”

However, Brohm knows physicality itself won’t win a football game. He hopes a winning mentality will help his squad bounce back from defeat.  

“The great thing about football is that it’s a new game each and every week, so win, lose or draw, we put it behind us,” Brohm said. “We learn from it, which was what we did yesterday, and now we have to go to work and find a way to win this one.” 

The game this Saturday will mark the second of five home games for the Hilltoppers this season. 

A win versus Miami at Smith Stadium would be the longest home winning streak since winning 10 from 2003 to 2005, bringing the current streak to six. 

The seniors look established in their legacy during their final year on the hill. 

“Obviously, with it being our last time, you want to take it in and enjoy the experience of being a WKU football player,” senior defensive end Gavin Rocker said. “With it being our last go-round, it helps me relax a little more because you don’t take it so seriously and just try to appreciate everything that’s going on.”

WKU faces the Redhawks Saturday at Smith Stadium at 2:30 p.m.