WKU announces 2023 football schedule

Linebacker Derrick Smith (24) of the WKU Hilltoppers during a football game at Indiana...
Linebacker Derrick Smith (24) of the WKU Hilltoppers during a football game at Indiana University Memorial Stadium on Sept. 17, 2022 in Bloomington, IN. Photo by Steve Roberts/WKU Athletics(Steve Roberts/WKU Athletics | Steve Roberts/WKU Athletics)
Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 1:07 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - WKU Football has released its 2023 schedule.

After playing the first college football game of 2022 in August, WKU will wait until September to open the 2023 campaign when it plays host to South Florida on Saturday, Sept. 2.

This will mark the eighth meeting between the Hilltoppers and the Bulls, with the last occurring in 2015 when WKU claimed a 45-35 victory in the Miami Beach Bowl.

Following the season opener, WKU will remain at home and take on Houston Christian, formerly named Houston Baptist, on Saturday, Sept. 9.

Record-setting quarterback Bailey Zappe and receiver Jerreth Sterns both transferred to WKU ahead of the 2021 season from HCU, along with former Hilltopper Offensive Coordinator Zach Kittley.

Week three will feature the biggest name on the Tops’ schedule with WKU traveling to take on Ohio State for the first time in program history.

The Buckeyes played in the first round of the 2022 College Football Playoff, falling to Georgia by a score of 42-41.

It will mark the third-consecutive season the Hilltoppers have squared off against a team from the Big Ten Conference with WKU playing Indiana in 2021 and 2022, and Michigan State in 2021.

Nonconference play wraps up on Saturday, Sept. 23, when the Hilltoppers make the return trip to Troy.

The Tops and Trojans played in Bowling Green in 2022 with Troy narrowly earning a 34-27 victory.

The Trojans went on to win the Sun Belt Conference Championship, and defeated Conference USA champion UTSA in the Cure Bowl.

The game will be WKU’s first visit to Troy since the 2012 campaign.

C-USA play opens on Thursday, Sept. 28, with rival Middle Tennessee making the 100-mile journey north to Houchens-Smith Stadium.

With a 35-17 victory over the Blue Raiders in 2022, WKU claimed the all-time series lead in the 100 Miles of Hate rivalry, 36-35-1.

It was also WKU’s fourth-consecutive victory over MTSU.

The game against the Blue Raiders will be the first of four mid-week games in the month of October.

After hosting MTSU, WKU will travel to Louisiana Tech for a Thursday-night clash with the Bulldogs.

Once the Tops enjoy their bye week, they will travel to C-USA newcomer Jacksonville State for a Tuesday-night game on Oct. 17.

WKU will then play again the following Tuesday night, this time against Liberty for the first time as league rivals.

The Hilltoppers and Flames have played three times previously with Liberty claiming victory in all matchups, the last one coming in 2020.

That game will mark the end of WKU’s mid-week contests for the season, with the remainder of the schedule slated for Saturdays in November.

The final month of the season starts when the Hilltoppers trave to take on UTEP for the first time since 2018.

It will also mark WKU’s first trip to El Paso since 2017.

The home schedule for the Tops will then wrap up with visits from New Mexico State on Nov. 11 and Sam Houston State on Nov. 18.

The regular season finale will be against FIU in Miami on Nov. 25.

All scheduled games are subject to date changes and some dates may move in the future in order to accommodate national television selections.

A schedule of televised games will be released at a later date.