WKU’s Taggart to bowls: ‘We’ve got a red-hot football team’

Sophomore Kiante Young intercepts a North Texas pass in the fourth quarter at Apogee Stadium in Denton, Texas. WKU won 31-21 to become bowl eligible.

Brad Stephens

DENTON, Texas — WKU made itself bowl eligible on Saturday with a 31-21 road win over North Texas, its sixth of the year.

But with Sun Belt Conference leader Arkansas State on Saturday accepting a bid to play in the GoDaddy.com Bowl, and two other league teams — Louisiana-Lafayette and Florida International — also bowl eligible, the Toppers aren’t yet guaranteed a bowl berth.

Head Coach Willie Taggart said that when bowl committees are judging resumes, they should value what the Toppers have done since starting the year 0-4.

“You’ve got a football team that’s hot right now,” he said. “You’ve got a football team that’s been on a roll. Out of our last seven games, we’ve won six of them. We only lost to the No. 1 team in the country (Nov. 12 at No 1 Louisiana State).

“We’ve got a red-hot football team that deserves it.”

The Sun Belt has direct tie-ins with two bowls, the GoDaddy.com Bowl, to be played Jan. 8, 2012 in Mobile, Ala., and the R + L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, to be played Dec. 17 in New Orleans.

The bowls, rather than the league, place teams in the individual bowls.

Athletics Director Ross Bjork said on Saturday that the New Orleans Bowl will likely invite Louisiana-Lafayette.

The Ragin’ Cajuns campus is just more than a two-hour drive from the city, as opposed to WKU or FIU, whose fans and teams would have to travel farther.

Bjork said for the Toppers to be selected for a bowl game, they will likely have to receive an at-large bid from a different bowl whose affiliated conferences don’t have enough eligible teams to qualify for an invitation.

Bjork said the team will “start lobbying” for a berth now that WKU is eligible.

He said that includes sending e-mails to fans encouraging them to go online and place a $25 deposit to reserve potential bowl tickets.

Bjork said the more tickets Topper fans reserve now, the better the chances of a bowl sending WKU an invite.

“We’ll just get to work, because that’s all you can do, is work and lobby the bowls that we have a great program and we’ll bring fans,” Bjork said.

WKUSports.com lists the Compass Bowl, the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, the Liberty Bowl, the Military Bowl, the Music City Bowl, the Pinstripe Bowl and the Ticket City Bowl as other potential bowls for WKU.

He said another key to securing a potential bowl berth will be for WKU to add another win to its resume at 11:30 a.m. next Saturday at home against Troy.

“We’ve got to take care of business to get to seven,” Bjork said. “We’ve really got to get to seven to really ensure that we’re in a better position.”