Western Kentucky is favored by four against winless Southern Miss.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – You think that two-point conversion against Kentucky was tricky for the Western Kentucky football team? Here is where it really gets tricky for the Hilltoppers:
Coming out Saturday night in Bowling Green and not playing like they're dragging their press clippings behind them when they host a winless Southern Mississippi team. Not following a signature victory with a stinging defeat in a vibrant stadium that could be sold out. Not coming out as stale as half-priced bread on a night when the (2-1) Hilltoppers are favored by four points against a team from Conference USA.
WKU has two opponents Saturday -- the Golden Eagles and human nature.
"No excuses," Taggart said.
But, coach, there are several YouTube.com videos of you speaking into a megaphone to address the excited crowd that gathered when WKU returned to Bowling Green after defeating UK, 32-31, in overtime last weekend. One has already been viewed nearly 2,600 times. Another clip of the WKU celebration in Commonwealth Stadium is pushing 9,000 views.
Your players can't exhale on The Hill without WKU students thanking them for the unforgettable pass that Antonio Andrews tossed to Kawaun Jakes for the game-winning, two-point conversion.
People are discussing how the Hilltoppers are a victory or two from stirring serious recognition in the human polls. WKU played top-ranked Alabama considerably tougher in Tuscaloosa than Arkansas played the Crimson Tide in Fayetteville. Think about that.
All those pats on the back add up.
"No excuses," Taggart said. "That was just one win. It wasn't a vehicle we can ride for the rest of the season. We got this program turned around by not accepting excuses when we were losing. We're not going to accept them now, not if we're going to take the next step toward being a dominant team."
Taggart has been working to dial down the noise on the celebration as relentlessly as he worked to turn Kentucky's passing attack upside down. It's been a challenge, especially with the buzz that only 2,600 or so tickets remain at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium.
Coach Jack Harbaugh's 2002 Division I-AA WKU national championship team will be honored. The stadium club will be named for Harbaugh and his wife, Jackie. Their sons, John and Jim, both NFL head coaches, will address the crowd in video messages.
How long can emotions keep percolating considering what happened in Lexington?
Taggart's phone started vibrating long before the WKU busses rolled away from Commonwealth Stadium.
The first call Taggart made was to his wife and children. The second was to Jack Harbaugh, who saved the program and ran it when Taggart played. The third was to Jim Harbaugh, the guy who brought Taggart to WKU from Florida.
Jim Harbaugh paused from a team bed check at the San Francisco 49ers' hotel to share his pride in what Taggart has achieved with a program that was dealing with a 26-game losing streak 23 months ago.
Former teammates sent text messages. So did guys that Taggart recruited when he worked for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford. High school friends. Radio shows. The works. Everybody wanted to praise Taggart – and Taggart deserved the praise.
"He's done a phenomenal job of getting everybody in the program to believe," said former WKU basketball coach Darrin Horn, who was invited to speak to the football team during a visit to Bowling Green last week.
Taggart has not been a total Grinch. His standard rule is that WKU players are required to delete games from their memories 24 hours after they end. This time Taggart gave his guys 25 hours. By 11 p.m. Sunday, Taggart had sent text messages to every WKU player. He advised them the opponent this week was not Kentucky. The opponents were Southern Miss, self-satisfaction, pride.
"Stay humble," Andrews said. "We haven't achieved anything yet. Our goal is to finish 11-1, not to be remembered for winning one game."
"It's not like we conquered the world," Taggart said. "We had a great win, a great moment. Now we have to prove we can be consistent. That's what great teams do."
Copyright 2012 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.
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