LANE | Toppers Open Conference Play at Middle Tennessee - WDRB 41 Louisville News

LANE | Toppers Open Conference Play at Middle Tennessee

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Western Kentucky's first league game as a member of Conference USA will be against an old friend.  The Toppers travel to  Middle Tennessee State Saturday for the 64th time in a rivalry that has spanned a century. The Blue Raiders were the first team Western Kentucky ever played in football, way back in October of 1914.  It's believed most offenses were not quite as high-powered then.  

Recent games involving these two have produced plenty of offense.  They've combined for at least 53 points in each of the last four meetings.  

Both teams are coming into this contest off losses to Big Ten foes after big opening game wins. Western lost a second half lead at Illinois, falling 42-34.  MTSU lost at Minnesota 35-24.    

“I think they are an experienced team who has won a lot of ball games in the past,” said WKU head coach Jeff Brohm. “They came into Conference USA last year and went 6-2. They went to a bowl game, won eight games, and their defense is very sound. They try not to give up the big play. They are a veteran group. On offense, they spread the field. They have a young quarterback who has played well the first few weeks. It presents challenges for us. They know what they are doing and have a staff who has been there for a while. I just think it's going to be a very tough ball game for us. Our guys are going to be hungry and I know our guys will be ready. We definitely wiped the taste of the last game from our mouths. It was a bitter taste, but we wiped it away, learned from it, and it's time to move on and get ready for the next one.”

Although Brohm is a first-year head coach in a new league, he's already gotten a decent feel for the competition that awaits his Toppers in Conference USA.

“A lot of teams have played well,” said the Trinity and U of L grad. “You look at UTSA who beat Houston – a very good opponent – and then barely lost to Arizona. You look at North Texas who put it to SMU last week. You look at UTEP who almost beat Texas Tech. Rice is a team that's coming back. Middle Tennessee won big their first week. There are a lot of good teams in the conference. A lot of parity and a lot of teams that are very close. Marshall is probably the front-runner. They are 2-0. I think any given week, in this conference, any team can win so it's important to play well. It's important to continue to improve. It's important to find ways to battle and win the fourth quarter. You definitely have to learn from your mistakes along the way, because if you repeat them, you're probably not going to be able to win the game. Hopefully, we'll do that. It's going to be a challenge, and going to Middle Tennessee for the first game is a great challenge.”

The Hilltoppers and Blue Raiders get it started at 7:00 pm EDT in Murfreesboro Saturday.

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