WKU Football previews upcoming matchup with Auburn

The+Hilltoppers+run+onto+Feix+Field+before+their+matchup+against+Rice+on+Saturday%2C+Nov.+12%2C+2022.+WKU+won+45-10.

Sean McInnis

The Hilltoppers run onto Feix Field before their matchup against Rice on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. WKU won 45-10.

Camden Bush, Football reporter

Head coach Tyson Helton previewed WKU Football’s upcoming matchup against the Auburn Tigers Monday morning in his weekly press conference at the Paul Just Media Center in E.A Diddle Arena.

“Auburn week, really excited for the opportunity to travel down there and play them,” Helton said. “What a great environment, what a great fan base. I had the opportunity to go down there and be a part of a lot of football games. It’s just a great place to play.”

The Hilltoppers will be looking for their third consecutive win after a disappointing loss to North Texas. Since that loss, WKU defeated Rice 45-10 Saturday and Charlotte 59-7 the week before. 

“I really liked how we responded. When you have a tough loss like we had in North Texas, you need to respond in the right way,” Helton said. “And I felt like that’s what we’ve done the past two weeks. We’re playing at a high level, there are certainly a lot of things that we can fix. We’re not there yet, and we need to play our best game this week.”

The matchup for WKU marks the school’s first matchup against a Southeastern Conference opponent since 2019 when the Hilltoppers defeated Arkansas 45-19. WKU has played Auburn twice before, losing both times in 2003 and 2005.

WKU is 4-18 all-time against SEC programs. Despite being on the road at an SEC school, the Hilltoppers entered the week as only 5.5 point underdogs, according to ESPN.

The Tigers have had a very disappointing season as they sit near the bottom of the SEC West with a 4-6 record on the season. Auburn fired their head coach Bryan Harsin just five games into the year after a lackluster start.

Auburn started the season off 3-1, but since then things have taken a turn for the worse. The Tigers lost five straight games before winning a tight contest over the struggling Texas A&M last week at home. 

Interim coach Carnell “Cadillac” Williams has started to turn the team’s season around a little it seems, as his first win as Auburn’s head coach came last week against Texas A&M. The Tigers also played in a tight contest the week before, as they took Mississippi State into overtime.

“Very motivated football team down there right now, very impressed with what they’ve done the past two weeks,” Helton said. “You can tell they’re playing with a lot of passion, the staff there has done a fantastic job of getting those guys going and there’s just tremendous pride and honor there. So I know our players will be really excited for the opportunity to play down there and really looking forward to a really good competitive game.”

The Hilltoppers, meanwhile, are in a very tight race to get to the Conference USA championship game against UTSA. WKU and North Texas are currently tied at 5-2 in conference play, but the Mean Green own the head-to-head advantage. Neither teams play C-USA teams this week so the race will end the following week. The Hilltoppers will need a win over FAU and a loss by North Texas against Rice to earn a title game berth.

Helton said that he figures the matchup against Auburn is bound to be a competitive one and that the team needs to play at a high level in all three phases of the game to beat the Tigers. 

WKU and Auburn will square off at 3 p.m. CT this Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama. The game will be televised on SEC Network.

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