Western Kentucky Season Win Total Prediction
In Conference USA country, one school’s offensive attack stands a cut above the rest. We’re talking about a crew so brilliant that even video-game designers find themselves in awe of it.
At least, that’s how Western Kentucky was perceived last fall – and rightfully so. The Hilltoppers averaged 44.3 points per contest en route to finishing 12-2. Winning eight of nine C-USA tilts by double digits, Jeff Brohm’s team became appointment television.
Of course, Brandon Doughty ran the show then. The sensational quarterback parlayed a 5,055-yard season into a roster spot with the Miami Dolphins. Now, the question shifts to whether the program can keep rolling without its recognizable trigger man.
The early schedule offers no free passes. Nonconference tests vs. defending national champion Alabama and an upstart Vanderbilt squad could put Brohm’s troops in catch-up mode this time around. Still, online sports book Bovada.lv projects the 2016 Hilltoppers for 9.5 victories.
Doughty completed his college career with 12,855 passing yards and 111 touchdowns, so to whom does WKU turn next? South Florida transfer Mike White figures to receive the first crack at the job. If he falters, talented underclassmen Drew Eckels and Steven Duncan may see extended reps sooner rather than later. Junior Tyler Ferguson also lurks on the periphery.
The good news: Stability rules up front. O-line coach Dale Williams retains his top eight blockers, including elite left tackle Forrest Lamp. Western Kentucky tied for 14th in the nation last year in sacks allowed per game, and all signs suggest another superb campaign in that regard.
On the ground, sophomore D’Andre Ferby and senior Anthony Wales form a rock-solid tandem. They’ll catch a fair number of balls out of the backfield, too. Yet Taywan Taylor’s a shoo-in to command the highest percentage of targets. In 2015, the 6-foot-1, 195-pounder hauled in 86 receptions for 1,467 yards – despite coming off the bench on nine occasions. Scouts are already salivating over his pro potential.
Defensively, Nick Holt needs to work out how to replace seven starters. The front four absorbed several hits, but nose tackle Omarius Bryant’s massive presence alleviates some of the pressure there. Thankfully, the unit’s leading tackler, T.J. McCollum, is back at outside linebacker. He’ll join forces with Keith Brown, who arrives from Louisville, to further bolster the second level.
Fans shouldn’t enter L.T. Smith Stadium automatically expecting the same type of peerless heroics every Saturday. WKU probably won’t score a combined 47 TDs in the first half alone either. Good luck to opposing D-coordinators, though, in terms of consistently holding down such a lethal system. Brohm’s bunch will certainly challenge for a second straight league title at minimum.
MONDAY COLLEGE FOOTBALL FREE PICK: WESTERN KENTUCKY HILLTOPPERS UNDER 9.5 WINS (-250)