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Western Kentucky

College Football

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Western Kentucky had a great run under Jeff Brohm with three-straight bowl wins and back-to-back double-digit wins seasons. But with Brohm out, there are some questions as to how the team will look, even with plenty of talent returning. Mike Sanford takes over as head coach after spending time as offensive coordinator at Notre Dame with Junior Adams (from Boise State) joining him as new offensive coordinator.

Considering how this offense has looked, it’ll be hard to sell the fan base on a different scheme that involves more motion and option-running plays. At the least, Mike White (37 TDs, 7 TDs, 67.3%) is still there to lead the offense in case things don’t work out. His task will be to replicate last year’s numbers with a new set of receivers and offensive linemen after last year’s starters moved on to the NFL. Nacarius Fant (407 yards) and Lucky Jackson (395 yards) are the next in line to be great WKU wide receivers, but the line has some holes to fill. A couple seniors return, but the front may take a step back. The running game returns Leon Allen, who has missed the last two years, as well as Quinton Baker, Marquez Trigg and D’Andre Ferby. With the options at tail back, the new offense may help get them all involved.

Defensive coordinator Clayton White comes over from North Carolina and he’s not expected to change much. The problem will be replacing WKU’s top players from last season. Seniors Derik Overstreet and Chris Johnson are good places to start on the line, while Joel Iyiegbuniwe will have to take up a bigger role at linebacker. The Hilltoppers struggled in the secondary last year because they were in so many shootouts, but senior talent and experience is there. Corners Laverick Johnson and De’Andre Simmons form a solid core with Marcus Ward at safety.

Even with a new staff and some guys gone to the NFL, Western Kentucky should be good enough to contend for another C-USA title (+185 favorites at 5Dimes Sportsbook). Once again, the Tops take on La. Tech early in the season, which could be a preview of the conference title game. But with that one along with the MTSU game being at home, WKU already has a more favorable schedule than a year ago. They also replace Alabama on the schedule with a trip to Illinois.

Even if this team is worse, 10 wins will be on the table again because of an easier schedule as none of their road games stand out as being too difficult. But backing Western Kentucky will require faith in a new coach and offense, which isn’t easy. White should keep this group moving, but there are questions as to how this team will perform without Brohm as head coach. Either way, their over/under still sat at 9.5 (at 5Dimes) in late July with most of the money coming in on the over.


2017 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Football Schedule

Sept. 2 vs. Eastern Kentucky
Sept. 9 at Illinois
Sept. 16 vs. Louisiana Tech
Sept. 23 vs. Ball State

Oct. 7 at UTEP
Oct. 14 vs. Charlotte
Oct. 20 at Old Dominion

Oct. 28 vs. Florida Atlantic
Nov. 4 at Vanderbilt
Nov. 11 at Marshall
Nov. 17 vs. Middle Tennessee
Nov. 24 at Florida International

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