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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 9, 12 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Michie Stadium (38,000) -- West Point, New York. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: WKU 2-2, Army 2-2. Away Record: WKU 2-2, Army 0-4. Neutral Record: WKU 1-0, Army 1-0. Conference Record: WKU 2-3, Army 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers attempt to become bowl eligible for the third consecutive season on Saturday afternoon, as they travel to West Point for a non-conference clash with the Army Black Knights.
WKU has had an up-and-down campaign in Bobby Petrino's first season, suffering back-to-back losses on two occasions with a three-game win streak sandwiched in between. The Hilltoppers moved to 2-3 in Sun Belt Conference play last week after securing a 44-28 road win over winless Georgia State.
Army's season has been marred by poor play, as it sits at just 3-6 overall, having yet to win two straight games at any point. The Black Knights are coming off road losses to Temple (33-14) and Air Force (42-28), but the good news is that it returns home this week where it has been competitive at 2-2.
Western Kentucky and Army have never before met on the football field.
The Hilltoppers have been effective on offense all season long, scoring 30.8 ppg while racking up 476.6 ypg, and they have one of the nation's best tailbacks to thank for most of their success.
Antonio Andrews leads the nation in rushing, turning 202 carries into 1,290 yards and 11 touchdowns, and he has been remarkably consistent with at least 99 rushing yards in every game. Andrews, whose 3,161 all-purpose yards last season was second-most in FBS history, is on pace to approach that number (2,045) with three regular-season bouts and a possible bowl game remaining.
Keshawn Simpson has just 110 rushing yards this season, but he has been a goal-line vulture at times with six touchdowns, including a career-high four in last week's win over GSU.
WKU's offensive potential has been limited by the turnover issues of quarterback Brandon Doughty, who has thrown the third-most interceptions in the nation (13). The picks have ruined an otherwise solid season (.673, 2,251 yards, nine TDs). He had to leave the GSU game with a head injury, and if he's unable to go this week, either Nelson Fishback or Todd Porter will get the nod.
Doughty spreads the ball out to several different receivers, with six guys registering at least 20 catches and 230 yards. Willie McNeal (29 receptions, 404 yards, TD) leads the unit, while Andrews also has 29 grabs.
Defensively, WKU has one of the best units in the Sun Belt, surrendering 26.7 ppg on just 361.9 ypg.
Xavius Boyd has emerged as one of the favorites to win the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year award. The linebacker has racked up 83 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 6.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Boyd is far from the only playmaker on the WKU defense, however, as Andrew Jackson (59 tackles), Jonathan Dowling (52 tackles, two INTs, four FF) and Cam Thomas (three INTs, 10 passes defended) are also on their way to All-Conference accolades.
Despite boasting the nation's top-ranked rushing attack, Army's offense sits 85th in the nation in scoring with an average of 25.2 ppg.
The Black Knights' relentless ground game racks up 339.3 ypg, with the majority of that production coming from a three-man rotation. Terry Baggett leads the way with 889 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging an outstanding 8.5 yards per carry. Larry Dixon (682 yards, six TDs) has also played well, and quarterback Angel Santiago leads the team in carries (131), resulting in 500 yards and seven scores.
Naturally, Army has not has much success through the air (73.8 ypg). Santiago is just 30-of-62 passing for 447 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while Kelvin White (143 yards, TD) and A.J. Schurr (74 yards, TD) also take the occasional snap.
When the team does throw the ball, the target is usually Xavier Moss, who has caught 26 balls for 338 yards and a touchdown. No one else has more than eight receptions.
In addition to a lackluster scoring offense, Army can't seem to keep opposing teams off the scoreboard, allowing 30.6 ppg.
Thomas Holloway has team-high 48 tackles, while Justin Trimble has accounted for three of the team's 12 takeaways with two interceptions and a fumble recovery. The Black Knights don't create much of a pass rush, tallying just 13 sacks through nine games.
Army has been rather unimpressive this season, but it usually puts up a fight at home, which could be cause for concern for WKU if Doughty can't go. If he doesn't suit up, the Hilltoppers still have the dynamic Andrews to lean on as he looks to shred a defense that allows nearly 200 rushing yards per outing.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Kentucky 34, Army 30
11/06 10:47:38 ET
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