CRAWFORD | WKU will get stage to itself when it faces Memphis in - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | WKU will get stage to itself when it faces Memphis in Boca Raton Bowl

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Some might think it’s a bit anticlimactic to go to a bowl game that’s played in a stadium where you won during the regular season.

Those folks, frankly, need to think bigger. And warmer.

When that stadium is located in Boca Raton, Fla., for instance, it’s a pretty good deal. The Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers were hoping to spend their bowl trip on Florida’s East coast, and now they will, having accepted a bid to the Boca Raton Bowl to play against Memphis on Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

The game in FAU Stadium will be the only football game played on Tuesday, Dec. 20, will be the only one in the nation that day, giving the Hilltoppers the stage to themselves.

WKU beat Florida Atlantic 52-3 in FAU Stadium — constructed through the efforts of WKU coach Jeff Brohm’s old coach at Louisville, Howard Schnellenberger — on Oct. 29.

Brohm, of course, still is very much the subject of coaching speculation at several schools, including Baylor, where he is reported to have interviewed, as well as Cincinnati and Purdue. Whether he coaches WKU through the bowl game or goes elsewhere, of course, is up in the air. But he said the coaches and players were excited to hear their bowl destination.

“Our players will be excited to go south,” Brohm said. “I think the destination is ideal, it’s a great spot to go to in December and it’s before Christmas. Our players are always excited to go south and play. It’s a big recruiting hotbed for us and a lot of people will have their families and friends there. I think the matchup is a great matchup, another outstanding team that’s probably very similar to us in terms of talent and what they do on offense and overall team skill. These are the games you have fun with, I think our guys will enjoy it and our fans will enjoy it, which is just as important. I think any time you can get your fanbase down and enjoy the bowl game — we had a tremendous turnout last year in Miami (for the Miami Beach Bowl). It was exciting, people were into it and it was a big win for us, and to be able to try to duplicate that will be fun.”

The Hilltoppers earned the destination when they beat Louisiana Tech 58-44 in the Conference USA championship game on Saturday in Bowling Green. WKU (10-3) will take its second straight 10-win season to the Boca Raton Bowl, making it just the second program in Kentucky FBS history to win double digit games in consecutive seasons (Louisville in 2012 and ’13 was the first).

WKU is the state’s winningest FBS program with 30 wins over the past three seasons, and is tied with Louisville for the winningest over the past four seasons with 38 wins. WKU is bowl eligible for a sixth straight season and will be making its third straight bowl appearance and fourth in five years.

“This is a great destination for our team and our fans, and we are thrilled to be playing in the Boca Raton Bowl,” athletic director Todd Stewart said.  “A prime time telecast on ESPN and the only college or pro football game the entire day, the Boca Raton Bowl provides terrific exposure and a great opportunity for viewers nationwide to get a first-hand look at the back-to-back Conference USA champions.”

WKU and Memphis have met five times and split the games 2-2-1, but this meeting will be their first since 1956.

The Hilltoppers rank No. 2 nationally in scoring offense at 45.1 points per game and No. 7 in total offense at 461.4 yards per game. They feature a career 4,000-yard receiver in Louisville native Taywan Taylor, a 3,000-yard receiver in Nicholas Norris and a 3,000-yard rusher in Ace Wales. They are the first team in FBS history to have three active players hit those milestones.

Memphis, under first-year coach Mike Norvell, ranks 33rd nationally in total offense at 461.4 yards per game.

Stewart said school administrators had been angling for the bowl in Florida for a while.

“It was really the one that we keyed on because I think it’s very similar with what we did last year with Miami, in terms of the location, date and exposure,” Stewart said. “This one’s actually even better because we were the only college football game last year, but it was an afternoon game. Whereas this year we’re literally the only football game. There’s one college or pro football game on Tuesday the 20th, and that’s our game with Memphis in prime time on ESPN. So, the exposure for the program will be great. I know everybody that’s there, our players, our coaches, our fans and our media, will all have a great time.”


Tickets for the Boca Raton Bowl can be purchased through the WKU Ticket Office this week from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. or online at Tickets are $40 and will be allocated by HAF priority rank. The deadline to order tickets will be Thursday Dec. 8th at 5:00pm. All orders will be mailed Friday Dec. 9. Fans that are unable to make the trip to Boca Raton can donate their bowl tickets to local youth organizations to attend the game. All ticket purchases will include a commemorative Boca Raton Bowl ticket. For more information please contact the ticket office at 1-800-5-BIGRED.

Fans that have placed a bowl deposit will be called Monday morning to finalize their order. WKU is planning a three day travel package that will include airfare and two night stay at the Boca Raton Resort and Club. Information will be released to fans as soon as they are finalized on Monday.

Fans looking to book their own stay at the team hotel, Boca Raton Resort and Club, may do so online by clicking HERE. Click “Advance Search” and add group code “BOCABL” to be given a special rate of $199.  This discount is available for Dec. 18-21.

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