I hope everyone is ready for some football. I'm sure like most of you, I am tired of talking about gameday. But now that it's here, guess what? I'm going to talk a little more.
First and foremost, tonight's WKU-UK game will air on ESPNU, which is not available in most basic cable lineups. We hope to have first half highlights on WBKO at 10 tonight, but that will largely depend on how quickly the game moves along.
I will be live tonight at LP field on WBKO at 5 and 6 with some final previews of the Hilltoppers and Wildcats. Kickoff is slated for 8:15 p.m.
Here are some final thoughts going into tonight's game in Nashville:
-Bobby Rainey must rush for at least 100 yards. Nothing earth-shattering, I know. But he is WKU's workhorse and he must perform if the Hilltoppers have a chance to win. Joker Phillips called Rainey's performance last year against the Wildcats "a slap in the face". He's determined to stop Rainey this time around. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, EVERY team was determined to stop Bobby Rainey last year. And all he did was finish the season as the third leading rusher in the country.
-Rainey must perform, but Kawaun Jakes is the key. You could see that about every game this season. The Hilltoppers will go as far as Kawaun Jakes takes them. It's that simple. Let's remember that despite Rainey's record-breaking season, the Tops only managed to win two games. Jakes must be able to extend the field for WKU to have success. Coach Taggart has stuck by Kawaun and insists his quarterback will do big things. Jakes now has a full season of the west coast offense under his belt. Hopefully for the Tops, Taggart is right.
-WKU's front four will struggle to bring pressure to Morgan Newton. Kentucky's strength is its offensive line. The Wildcats return four-fifths of its o-line from last year and the group has talent. To make matters worse for the Tops, senior nose tackle Jamarcus Allen is out tonight, serving a one-game suspension for violating team rules. Allen started all 12 games for WKU last season. Rammell Lewis will start at nose tackle tonight and Kenny Martin will replace Martin at defensive tackle.
-The Hilltoppers must stay within one score by halftime. If the game is close entering the second half, the pressure starts to mount on the Wildcats. UK put last year's game out of reach by halftime. The Toppers cannot allow Kentucky to take a two-possession lead into the lockerroom. WKU can still utilize the run but for only so long. If the Tops are put in a situation where they have to pass, their chances of pulling off the upset are greatly diminished.
A question for WKU fans: will you only be pleased with a win? Or would you be okay with a competitive game and a close loss?
Enjoy the game!