Western Kentucky Football 2012 Bowl Capsule

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
Sun Belt


Western Kentucky was bowl eligible last season, but missed out on going to a bowl game. Thanks to a handful of good teams not eligible for the postseason, the Hilltoppers snuck into the field this time around. And this is WKU’s first ever bowl appearance, so just getting here is impressive. However, this is a pretty good team and they will not be content simply reaching a bowl game. Besides when they outmatched the competition, like against Austin Peay, or when they were completely outmatched by Alabama, just about every game has been close. The Hilltoppers got a reputation as a team that can come back from large deficits or, occasionally, give up big leads. Either way, Western Kentucky has provided some thrilling endings.

2012 Record: 7-5, 4-4
Coach: Willie Taggart
Coach Bowl Record: 0-0

Big Wins: 9/15 at Kentucky (32-31), 9/22 Southern Miss (42-17)
Bad Losses: 11/1 Middle Tennessee State (29-34), 11/10 Florida Atlantic (28-37)

Coach Willie Taggart’s team usually stays within striking distance because of their defense. The unit ranked first in the Sun Belt Conference in pass defense, total defense and scoring defense. Andrew Jackson seems to be involved in every play. The linebacker tallied 116 tackles, including 16.5 tackles-for-loss, and forced four fumbles during the 2012 campaign. Jackson is the main reason why this defense is so effective, but he does get plenty of help. Defensive end Quanterus Smith spends a lot of time in the backfield and tallied 12.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles-for-loss. The secondary is loaded. Kiante Young has had a surprisingly good season at the strong safety spot and Jonathan Dowling is a ball hawk who picked off six passes. Cam Thomas and Arius Wright have grown into solid cornerbacks and are only getting better. The offense must put most of the points on the board when Western Kentucky is making one of their comebacks, but the defense is the one getting them the ball.

Coach Taggart has done very well sticking with the game plan even when things go bad. And that game plan is usually to feed Antonio Andrews. The running back has tallied 1,609 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. It takes a huge effort to slow down Andrews. But eventually WKU has to throw and they barely averaged over 200 yards passing per game. Obviously the Hilltoppers can win on the legs of Andrews and the defense, but Kawaun Jakes needs to run the offense efficiently. Jakes has thrown for 21 touchdowns this season, so he can take full advantage of the opposition creeping up in the box, but the offense can sputter when Jakes is feeling a lot of pressure.

Statistical Leaders:
Rushing: Antonio Andrews, RB, 1,609 yards
Passing: Kawaun Jakes, QB, 2,289 yards
Receiving: Jack Doyle, TE, 530 yards
Tackles: Andrew Jackson, LB, 116
Sacks: Quanterus Smith, DL, 12.5
Interceptions: Jonathan Dowling, S, 6

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 186.17 (41st in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 205.67 (92, 9)
Total Offense: 391.83 (72, 7)
Scoring Offense: 28.75 (67, 6)
Rushing Defense: 138.25 (33, 2)
Pass Defense: 206.17 (31, 1)
Total Defense: 344.42 (23, 1)
Scoring Defense: 25.58 (51, 1)
Turnover Margin: -0.08 (61, 6)
Sacks: 2.58 (23, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 2.00 (68, 7)

Recent Bowl Appearances:
No Bowl Appearances    

*all team stats through 11/24


Bowl Central

 W KY Shop