Aulbach: Toppers bring new-found momentum to bye week

WKU junior Jonathan Dowling yells to get the crowd pumped up. WKU plays Navy on Saturday on Sept. 28, 2013 at Smith Stadium in Bowling Green, Ky. 

Lucas Aulbach

Coach Bobby Petrino caught me of guard at his press conference Monday when he said WKU’s bye week falling on this weekend was coming at a good time.

The Toppers are coming off two of their better wins of the season, a 44-28 win a Georgia State and a last-minute 21-17 win at Army over the weekend. I would have thought they would want to keep riding this momentum they’ve picked up in the past few weeks.

Saturday’s game over the Black Knights sticks out on WKU’s schedule. It was the sixth win of WKU’s season, first of all, giving the Toppers bowl eligibility with two games remaining.

Junior quarterback Brandon Doughty was efficient in the pocket, throwing for 199 yards, two touchdowns and a pick, but for the first time he also looked elusive out of it, picking up 26 rushing yards on seven attempts. The Topper defense was effective against Army’s top-ranked rushing attack, giving up only a few long runs on the afternoon, and looked better as the game went on.

The Army win also stands out, though, because of the way WKU captured it.

The Toppers really haven’t had to come back in any of their other wins this season — they trailed at points against Navy early, but Saturday presented a rase of real adversity when WKU came faced a 10-0 deficit at West Point midway through the third quarter.

WKU has been more prone to giving wins away late in the game this season, with blown leads against Louisiana-Lafayette, South Alabama and Troy still hurting the team looking for its second FBS bowl berth.

When senior running back Antonio Andrews, who was once recruited by Army, crossed the goal line with 32 seconds to go and gave WKU its first lead against the Black Knights he didn’t just save the game, he saved WKU’s bowl hopes. The Toppers are still going to need more wins to earn a berth, but Saturday was a can’t-lose game for a team looking to make up for a few Sun Belt losses.

It might take two wins to get a bowl berth, but for the time being, Petrino said he’s more worried about getting one win — the next one.

“We want to get better in practice this week and then find a way to beat Texas State,” Petrino said. “That’s all you try to do, is you play one game at a time.”

With two weeks to kill before next weekend’s game against Texas State, the Toppers will have to hope some of the energy they created in West Point can carry over to practice.