WKU Football Media Day: Hilltoppers enter conference play against FIU


Allie Hendricks

WKU freshman running back Kye Robichaux is hounded by UTSA’s defense during the Hilltoppers’ 52-46 loss to the Roadrunners at Houchens-Smith Stadium on Oct. 9, 2021.

Camden Bush, Sports Reporter

WKU Football previewed its upcoming matchup against FIU in its weekly press conference Monday morning at the Paul Just Media Center in Diddle Arena. 

Head coach Tyson Helton spoke of the team’s excitement to kick off conference play and  return home after a lot of travel. 

“FIU week, our guys are really excited and ready to start conference play.” Helton said. “Love the fact that we get to come back home, need our crowd to be loud and be out there. I do want to say thanks to our crowd that was at the game at Indiana, we had a really good following there. We felt their presence, and we’ve got to be able to come back home and get that home crowd advantage.”

The Hilltoppers opened the week as heavy favorites over the Panthers. ESPN has WKU as 30.5 point favorites over FIU and with a 96.7 percent chance to win. Helton however sees the Panthers as a tough opponent. 

“They will be hungry and they’ll be ready to play.” Helton said “They’re excited to get going and to play against us. They’ve had a couple injuries that I think they’ll get some guys back. So I expect a competitive game this week for sure.”

Helton also took time to speak of the competition in C-USA as a whole this season as this game kicks off conference play for the Hilltoppers.

“It’s anybody’s game.” Helton said. “I’ve had a chance to really watch every team play, and it’s like anything, there’s been some games that have been some tough matchups for some Conference USA teams, but everybody’s pretty good. You’ve got to show up and play every week. We’ve got a tough schedule, as does everybody else, but it is a competitive conference for sure.”

FIU will head into Saturday’s contest, coming off a bye week, with a 1-1 record on the season. The Panthers narrowly defeated Bryant in their season opener 38-37 before dropping their second game to Texas State.

WKU will be trying to move on from a tough loss against Indiana last Saturday, losing by a field goal in overtime. Coach Helton evaluated the performance and spoke on what the team will need to do better to win this week.

“I think for the most part in all our phases of the game we played really well.” Helton said. “It’s just key plays that make the difference in games. We had 545 yards of offense, unfortunately we had two touchdowns called back and had an interception in the red zone. When you look back, those three or four plays are going to make a difference. I think it shows that our team can be as good as we want to be. But you’ve got to show up every week and play the game the right way. Those three or four critical plays that come up, you’ve got to make them happen.”

The Hilltoppers have squared off with the Panthers 15 times in the program’s history with WKU taking nine of 15 games. The Hilltoppers have also won three straight in the series, including a 34-19 victory on the road last season. 

Kickoff against FIU is set for 2:30 p.m. CT Saturday at Houchens Industries L. T. Smith Stadium.