LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Western Kentucky returns home Saturday with the likelihood of a close, entertaining game. The last four games against Middle Tennessee State have been decided by a total of 12 points.
The Toppers rolled past Rice last Saturday in Houston, 49-10 and take a 4-1 record into the Noon Eastern kickoff. They are looking to go 3-0 in the conference for the first time in the FBS era and the first since 2005 when they were in the Gateway Conference. To do so, they'll have to beat a MTSU team that has beaten them five of the last meetings, including 50-47 in a wild three overtime game last season.
"I think they understand that Middle Tennessee beat us last year," said coach Jeff Brohm. "They’re one of the top teams on our side of the division. Every year they’re a very good football team, and they’ve had our number recently so we have to find a way to get over the hump. This is a very important game for our team because it’s such a tough, divisional match up and luckily we get them at home. We’re looking forward to getting our crowd out there and them helping propel us to a victory."
"I’m just excited," said defensive back Prince Charles Iworah. "I can’t wait. I love the thrill. I love the rivalry. I love the 100 Miles of Hate. I love all of it. I’m just truly, truly excited and can’t wait to play this game."
Sixth-year quarterback Brandon Doughty is again putting up outrageous numbers in Brohm's offense. He had his fourth consecutive 400-yard game against Rice and is second in the FBS with 2000 yards passing on the season. He's thrown 15 touchdowns against two interceptions. But a change for the Toppers this season is ball security and forcing turnovers. They lead the nation in turnover margin.
"To lead the country in turnover margin, it is hard to do so that’s without question a testament to our players and our coaches for spending so much time at practice at turnovers, and we actually do," said Brohm. "We spend a lot more time on ball security on offense than any place I’ve been before. We spend a lot of time on creating turnovers on defensive in practice, and it’s talked about a lot. Normally when you spend a lot of effort and a lot of talk into a simple thing like turnovers, it pays off, and luckily this year to this point, it’s been a huge difference. As you guys know, we are 4-1. In the four wins, we won the turnover margin, and in the loss, we didn’t win the turnover margin. It’s a thing we’re going to continue to work on and harp on. We don’t ever take it for granted because you can’t. Our players are aware of it, but I think it’s really a testament to the hard work our players put in on turnovers throughout practice."
Middle Tennessee comes in at 2-3 overall, 1-0 in the conference. The Blue Raiders three losses have come against Alabama, Illinois and Vanderbilt. Separated by 100 miles, this will be the 64th meeting between the schools.
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