ESPN coverage one of many game day changes on campus

Elliott Pratt

WKU has played in some large venues in recent years — games against Kentucky played in Nashville and last year’s Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit are just two games that have put the Toppers on the national stage.

Tonight’s nationally-televised home game against Louisiana-Lafayette ranks as another important moment for WKU.

WKU has played televised games at Smith Stadium with ESPNU, ESPNews and ESPN3 in the past, but neither of the two major networks — ESPN2 or ESPN — have ever aired a game from campus. Tonight’s game will be televised on ESPN2.

The Toppers’ battle with the Ragin’ Cajuns is designated as a blackout game, and WKU will sport its all-black uniforms.

“We’re the only game on and everybody else has to watch you,” senior linebacker Xavius Boyd said. “ESPN2, it’s going to be a good night.”

Athletics Director Todd Stewart said having ESPN in town provides the exposure that the university needs in order to show that WKU is a nationally prominent program.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for not only our football program, but for our athletic department, our university and the Bowling Green community to show the nation what we’re all about,” Stewart said. “I would hope that we have a great crowd because you have two very good teams, both of whom have a chance to win a conference championship and it’s a big game for us and we certainly would like to have a home field advantage to help us through.”

Players, fans and the university as a whole are preparing for the worldwide leader in sports to take over the campus Tuesday night.

President Gary Ransdell asked the university in an email sent to faculty and staff last week to help with parking on Tuesday.

“This game will put our campus in the national spotlight,” Ransdell said in the email. “Your cooperation is greatly appreciated. We hope as many of you as possible can enjoy this unusual weeknight experience.”

The unusual experience isn’t changing things for the WKU football team. The Toppers have adjusted their schedule as though Tuesday night’s show down is another Saturday game.

Senior defensive end Bar’ee Boyd said he understands that the Toppers must not get wrapped up in the hype, and that they are “just going to play it like any other” game.

Coach Bobby Petrino said the team has done a nice job adjusting and staying sharp with the schedule.

“I think we’ve practiced pretty good,” Petrino said. “I think we try to make sure we understand that our normal Tuesday and Wednesday practices are work. It’s about grinding and getting better and working hard. We had some pretty good energy and enthusiasm out there today for (a) Thursday (practice), which is what we want. We just have to go through our normal routine and get ready when it’s kickoff.”