LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The East Division of Conference USA and a chance to host the conference championship game will come down to a Friday after Thanksgiving meeting in Bowling Green between Western Kentucky and Marshall. But first the Hilltoppers want to take care of business in Miami Saturday against Florida International.
WKU (8-2, 6-0 in C-USA) is coming off a bye week. FIU (5-6, 3-4 in C-USA) is coming off its worst defeat of the season. The Panthers lost 52-0 at Marshall. They have only lost back-to-back games once this season and have yet to lose on their home turf.
"They are 4-0 at home. So, they definitely know how to play in their stadium, in their environment, in their element," said Topper Head Coach Jeff Brohm. "It’s going to be a challenge for us to go down there and win the football game. I think they are going to be a little angry at the way they played last week. There’s a lot riding on this game for them. They want to become bowl-eligible, and they have to win this game to do that. We have to understand that they are going to do everything in their power to win, and we’ve got to find a way to match that and play even better."
The Hilltopper players say they are getting used to being the hunted.
"I actually think it’s like that most weeks," said running back Anthony Davis. "We still have goals so you really don’t focus on things like that. Because you have a target on your back, it doesn’t mean it might influence how you might play. You’re going to always go out there and give it your best. Maybe one difference is you’re going to get every team’s best shot, especially this week given the circumstances, but you just have to go out there and execute. There’s not much we can change."
“I think to this point, we’ve handled it pretty well," said Brohm. "Our guys understand that each game is equally important. People are expecting us to do certain things, and we need to go out there and perform at a high level, and each week, try to get better than we were the week before."
The Toppers have taken turns with numerous awards throughout the season. This week it was Pleasure Ridge Park grad Taywan Taylor. He was the first-ever Western player to be named one of ten semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award given annually to the nation's top receiver. The Junior has 65 receptions for 1051 yards (9th in FBS) and 13 touchdowns (4th in FBS). He is just 5 catches and 57 yards away from becoming the all-time single season leader at WKU in both categories.
Kickoff at FIU Stadium Saturday is 2:30 pm ET.
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