By WDRB Sports Staff

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The countdown to kickoff has finally become tolerable. College football will be played Thursday night.

Quality games are parked on the schedule. Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan debut at Utah. TCU starts its playoff push at Minnesota. South Carolina plays North Carolina in an SEC/ACC bragging rights moment.

But locally the stage belongs to coach Jeff Brohm, quarterback Brandon Doughty and the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. WKU makes a prime-time intro, visiting Vanderbilt for a game that will be televised at 8 p.m. (EDT) on the SEC Network.

(Look for complete coverage at WDRB and Eric Crawford and John Lewis will be at Vanderbilt Thursday night before driving to Atlanta for Louisville’s season opener against Auburn on Saturday.)

I can’t imagine there is a point spread in college football that has moved more than this one. According to, the line for this game opened with Vanderbilt listed as a 17-½ point favorite.


Vanderbilt (3-9) didn’t beat anybody by more than 14 points last season.

There was an immediate market correction.

At 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, WKU was favored by 2 ½.

For the record, Vanderbilt went 3-5 at home last season, 2-2 as a home underdog. WKU lost four of six road games in 2014, losing its only road game (to Florida Atlantic) as a road favorite.

The entire WDRB Sports staff has filed its season predictions for WKU, Louisville, Kentucky and Indiana. We will share them, one at a time, before all four teams make their season debuts.

We’ll also include what the national analysts and publications are saying.

Let’s get to work.

ERIC CRAWFORD – 8-4. The Toppers are just a few defensive plays short of even bigger things.

TOM LANE – 8-4. The Hilltoppers keep scoring a get a little better at stopping people.

JOHN LEWIS – 7-5. WKU will go on the road to face a Big Ten team (Indiana) and two SEC teams (Vandy and LSU), so Conference USA may feel like a breather for a high-powered offense.

MIKE LACETT – 9-3. The Hilltoppers had a historic season last year, and I expect more of the same this year.

RICK BOZICH – 8-4. WKU allowed nearly 40 points per game last season. If the Toppers can cut that number to the low 30s, they’ll win more than eight. Big, big if.


PHIL STEELE COLLEGE FOOTBALL YEARBOOK: WKU ranked 67th in the nation, picked to finish second to Marshall in the East Division of Conference USA.

ATHLON SPORTS: Hilltoppers are ranked 69th nationally, but picked first in the C-USA East.

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: WKU picked to win Conference USA.

ESPN MAGAZINE: WKU ranked 57th in the nation, second in C-USA East.

SPORTING NEWS: WKU picked first in C-USA East.

SAGARIN RATINGS: WKU ranked 68th in pre-season computer rankings, but a 2-point underdog at Vanderbilt.

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