PREVIEW: WKU at Illinois

Red shirt freshman Tanner Reeves (59) leads the team to the field during the first half of WKU’s game against Bowling Green State Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, at Houchens Industries – L.T. Smith Stadium in Bowling Green, Ky. Mike Clark/HERALD

Elliott Pratt

Western Kentucky (1-0) at Illinois (1-0), 11:00 a.m. CT (Big Ten Network)

ODDS: Illinois by 7

SERIES: First meeting


WKU 59, Bowling Green State 31

Illinois 28, Youngstown State 17


WKU looks to open the season 2-0 for the first time since 2005 and win their road opener for the first time since 2000. The Hilltoppers will be searching for their fifth consecutive victory over a non-conference opponent. Illinois has lost four out of its last five games at Memorial Stadium.


After one game, WKU’s offense ranks third in the country in total offense after racking up a school FBS record 702 yards. In 2013, Illinois’s defense gave up 35.4 points per game and ranked 104th nationally. The Fighting Illini allowed Youngstown State – an FCS school in the Missouri Valley Conference – to put up 380 yards of offense.


WKU- Brandon Doughty was named Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week after breaking three school records for completions (46), passing yards (569) and touchdowns (6) in the season opening win over Bowling Green. Doughty leads the NCAA in passes completed, passing yards and passing touchdowns.

Illinois – QB Wes Lunt led Illinois on three touchdown drives in the fourth quarter to defeat Youngstown State. The Oklahoma State transfer was 24-of-38 for 285 yards and four TDs, the most for any Illinois quarterback making their debut.


Jeff Brohm and secondary coach Mike Cassity have both spent time with Illinois. Brohm was the quarterbacks coach from 2010-11 and Cassity served as defensive coordinator from 2001-03….The Hilltoppers are 0-4 all-time against current members of the Big Ten with losses to Wisconsin, Nebraska, and twice to Indiana.