‘It starts with stopping the run’: WKU Football hosts Troy this week

Dalvin+Smith%2C+WKU+wide+reciever%2C+celebrates+with+fans+after+the+Hilltoppers+score+a+touch+down+at+L.+T.+Smith+Stadium+on+Sept.+24%2C+2022+in+Bowling+Green%2C+Ky.+

Sean McInnis

Dalvin Smith, WKU wide reciever, celebrates with fans after the Hilltoppers score a touch down at L. T. Smith Stadium on Sept. 24, 2022 in Bowling Green, Ky.

Camden Bush, Football reporter

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

The Hilltoppers will return to out-of-conference play a week after opening Conference USA competition with a lopsided 73-0 victory over Florida International University.

 “Troy this week; really, really excited about them,” head coach Tyson Helton said. “I really want to thank our fans, [we] had a great atmosphere last week. Need them to show up and show out at home again. Got a great opponent coming in in Troy, a real good football team.”

The Hilltoppers will host the Trojans in what is set to be a very competitive game. WKU opens as a five-point favorite, according to ESPN. 

The Trojans have been impressive in their early season games despite sitting at a 2-2 record. The two losses came in close games against no. 14 Ole Miss and Sun Belt Conference foe Appalachian State. 

The loss against Appalachian State happened in Boone, North Carolina, in a game that played host to ESPN’s College Gameday. The Trojans fell on a last-second hail-mary throw that was deflected into the arms of a Mountaineer for the winning score.

Troy saw a coaching change take place in the offseason as the school signed Jon Sumrall, an assistant coach from the University of Kentucky, to take the helm as head coach. Helton spoke of his admiration of Sumrall’s work at Troy.

“I think they’re a tough nosed football team,” Helton said. “I think they’re well coached. I think coach [Jon] Sumrall has done a fantastic job with them. I mean, you don’t just go to App State; technically in my mind, they’re supposed to win that game, and for them to bounce back like they did, kind of like us against Indiana, it says a lot about their football team.”

WKU is coming off a 73-0 victory over FIU to make the team 3-1 on the year. With Saturday’s performance, the Hilltoppers extended their streak of scoring 30 or more points a game to 18-straight games. This streak is the longest in the NCAA and the next closest team has done it in just seven straight games.

Helton’s main focus for Saturday’s game is the defense and trying to stop the run game.

“It starts with stopping the run,”  Helton said. “We’ve got to stop the run, and then we can’t give up the explosive plays in the passing game. Last week, in their game against Marshall, they had some explosive plays in the passing game. They’ll go the distance.”

The two schools have not faced off since 2013 when Troy claimed a victory and took a 9-2-1 lead in the all-time series. 

Kickoff against Troy is set for 6:00 p.m. CT this Saturday at Houchens-Smith Stadium.

Football reporter Camden Bush can be reached at [email protected]