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WKU prepares for Famous Toastery Bowl

Dominic Di Palermo
Quarterback Austin Reed, left and Elijah Young, right, celebrate after Reed’s touchdown against Middle Tennessee State University at L.T Smith Stadium in Bowling Green on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023.

WKU Football prepares to take on the Old Dominion Monarchs in the Famous Toastery Bowl on Monday, Dec. 18 in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

The Hilltoppers will be looking for their third straight bowl game victory and their fourth in the last five years.

The Monarchs will present WKU with a tough matchup as the Hilltoppers look for their eighth win of the season. Old Dominion ended their regular season with two wins in a row following three straight losses.  

“Very, very competitive football team.” Head Coach Tyson Helton said. “I think it says a lot about them that they win their last two games to get bowl eligible. It says that they’re a tough, gritty football team and highly motivated. It’s a great honor to be bowl eligible. I know, like us, they’re excited for the opportunity to play in this bowl game.”

Helton believes that the Hilltopper defense will need to be on top of their game to stop an impressive Monarchs offense.

“They’ve got good skill players on offense.” Helton said. “Their offensive scheme is good. They like to go fast. The quarterback is a good player, they’ve got good runners that run the ball extremely hard. It’ll be a good challenge for our defense, for sure.”

On the other side of the ball, Helton expects the Monarchs to try to put a lot of pressure on graduate quarterback Austin Reed. 

“They’ve got a good front, they like to blitz, they’ve got good blitz schemes, they get after the quarterback.” Helton said. “Their linebackers are good players, good coverage guys, they change up their coverages and their looks, so it’s going to be a tough day for us offensively as far as trying to figure out what’s going on. We’ve got to be hitting on all cylinders offensively in the first couple of drives so that we can get them figured out. Overall, they’re a really good football team and it should be a good matchup.”

After concluding the regular season Nov. 25 with a win over FIU, the Hilltoppers have had plenty of time to prepare for the bowl game. Offensive Coordinator Drew Hollingshead explained why the practices leading up to the game have helped the team in a number of ways. 

“We’ve all done a pretty good job of using the bowl practices as kind of your stepping stone or another spring ball, really, getting ready for the next season.” Hollingshead said. “You’re using it as an opportunity to get your young guys some reps, your backups, guys that haven’t played very much this season because you’re kind of afforded the opportunity to take some time. You’re not focusing on playing week after week. You’ve got a little time to prepare.”

The Toastery Bowl will mark Reed’s final game as a Hilltopper after a highly successful stint at WKU. In his two seasons at WKU, Reed has thrown for over 8,000 yards and 71 touchdowns.

Reed will be looking to replicate his performance in the 2022 New Orleans Bowl in which he led WKU to a 44-23 victory over South Alabama. In the contest, Reed threw for 497 yards and four touchdowns, winning the New Orleans Bowl MVP. 

The Hilltoppers enter the game as three-point underdogs, according to ESPN.

WKU and Old Dominion will face off at Jerry Richardson Stadium on Dec. 18 at 1:30 p.m. CT.

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