BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — With their late-game heroics against Sun Belt Conference foe Arkansas State, the WKU Hilltoppers (8-4, 4-3 SBC) wrapped up their final season as SBC members on a high note after setting 18 new offensive school records under first-year head coach Bobby Petrino.
The eight wins were a school-record during the FBS era and WKU finished tied for the best record in the conference. Next season, the Hilltoppers join Conference USA and re-unite with a number of former SBC members in a league which boasts six guaranteed bowl tie-ins.
“Certainly, for out football program, it is a very disappointing day,” said WKU Athletic Director Todd Stewart. “I don’t think there is any question that this year’s team had a tremendous season in many ways. Our players and coaching staff worked tirelessly to elevate our program, and they succeeded in doing that.”
WKU finished the year as one of just 36 teams in the country to have seven wins in three consecutive seasons. They are also one of just three teams to have seven or more wins in the third, fourth and fifth years of their transition to the FBS from the FCS. Only Marshall and Nevada were able to accomplish that feat of the 19 teams to make the move since 1987.
The Hilltoppers are also one of just 11 programs nationally to have consecutive NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament appearances as well as consecutive bowl-eligible seasons.
Defensively, the Hilltoppers ranked No. 15 nationally in total defense and finished the season as the No. 10 passing defense, both the highest marks of any SBC team. All-Conference nominee Cam Thomas led all SBC defensive backs with 15 passes defended (five interceptions, 10 breakups) while linebacker and Defensive Player of the Year nominee Xavius Boyd led all defenders in tackles for loss (15.5) and sacks (8.5), marks the Hilltoppers also led in last season as well.
All-American candidate Antonio Andrews led the nation in all-purpose yardage for the second consecutive season as the only player in the nation to average over 200 all-purpose yards per game. Andrews was also the nation’s No. 4 rusher and just the 11th player in FBS history to rush for 1,700 yards in consecutive seasons as he broke his own school record this year, tallying 1,730 yards on the ground.
Petrino also led the Hilltoppers to victories over four bowl-eligible teams this season including Navy, Texas State, Arkansas State and Louisiana-Monroe, a mark which surpasses the total number of victories over bowl-eligible teams over the past five seasons combined (three).
Andrews set six records in all this season including: single-season rushing yards (1,730), single-season 100-yard rushing games (11), career 100-yard rushing games (21), consecutive 100-yard rushing games (11), single-game touchdowns (five) and career 200-yard rushing games (five).
Quarterback Brandon Doughty also set the single-season passing yards mark, meaning the Hilltoppers were the only team in the nation to set both the single-season passing and rushing records in the same season. Doughty also set the school record for single-season completion percentage (65.8), single-game completions (29) and single-game passing yards (387).
Offensively, the Tops set eight total records including: total yards (5,502), total yards per game (458.5), average yards per play (6.3), average yards per carry (5.0), rushing yards per game (196.8), passing yards per game (261.7), passing first downs (141) and completion percentage (65.3).
With the season drawn to a close, 19 seniors will look to complete their education with a number graduating in December. Three Hilltoppers have also confirmed their participation in post-season all-star games including Andrews (Reese’s Senior Bowl), Boyd (Medal of Honor Bowl), and linebacker Andrew Jackson (East-West Shrine Game).
Andrews is also a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award and Lee Roy Selmon Spirit Award.
To follow WKU football into the off-season, as Petrino and his coaching staff look to sign their first recruiting class heading into C-USA, follow @WKUSports and @WKU_Football on Twitter as well as WKU Athletics on Facebook.