2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 6 - WKU at Middle Tennessee
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Oct. 6 WKU 36 … at Middle Tennessee 33 2OT
CFN Analysis: WKU overcame 11 penalties and a rough, inconsistent passing day from Kawaun Jakes to finally come up with the first win of the season. The defense gave up yards, but it came up with three key takeaways and a big safety, while a John Evans kickoff return for a score was a big help with the offense needed a boost. Bobby Rainey needed to be the best player on the field, and he was with 146 yards and a score on 37 carries, and he caught the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime. The coaching staff is feeding the star over and over and over again, and while he was needed for the win, the 43 carries were too many.
Middle Tennessee blew the layup and now the Sun Belt dreams are over. With Benny Cunningham out, William Pratcher picked up the slack with 106 yards on 16 carries, while D.D. Kyles ran well tearing off 96 yards and a score on 19 carries. The three turnovers were too much to overcome, and the defense had too hard a time getting off the field as WKU controlled the game and the clock. Converting 3-of-12 third down chances was a big problem, and breakdowns on special teams and on the offensive line turned out to be too much to overcome. Now at 1-4 with a road trip to Florida Atlantic up next there are problems. The Blue Raiders have to be perfect to win, and they haven't been.
(AP) MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Kawaun Jakes threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Bobby Rainey in the second overtime to give Western Kentucky a 36-33 victory over Middle Tennessee on Thursday night.
Rainey, the Sun Belt Conference rushing leader, ran for 146 yards and a touchdown and caught six passes for 57 yards for the Hilltoppers (1-4, 1-1). Jakes completed 17 of 34 passes for 222 yards.
Logan Kilgore was 23 of 47 for 282 yards and two touchdowns for Middle Tennessee (1-3, 0-2). William Pratcher ran for 106 yards, and D.D. Kyles gained 96 yards and scored a touchdown.
After Middle Tennessee's Alan Gendreau made a 22-yard field goal to tie it at 16, Josh Evans returned the kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown for Western Kentucky to make it 23-16.
Middle Tennessee answered with Kilgore connecting with Anthony Amos on an 8-yard, fourth-down touchdown pass with 4:55 left. Western Kentucky had a chance to win in regulation, but Shubert Bastien blocked Casey Tinius' 46-yard field goal attempt as time ran out.
In overtime, Kadeem Jones scored the second of his two touchdowns on a 1-yard run for Western Kentucky.
Middle Tennessee answered with Kilgore's 25-yard TD pass to Sancho McDonald.
In the second overtime, Middle Tennessee settled for Gendreau's 23-yard field goal.
Western Kentucky (0-4) at Middle Tennessee (1-3) Oct. 6, 7:30, ESPNU
Here's The Deal … Middle Tennessee has one of its toughest games in the rear view mirror, losing to Troy in a 38-35 heartbreaker in the Sun Belt conference opener, but it rebounded from that, and a tough opening day loss at Purdue, with a 38-31 win over Memphis. The good news is that the Blue Raiders got the win. The bad news is that Memphis, one of the nation's worst teams, scored 31 points. To get into the Sun Belt title chase, a win over WKU is a must, and to show that it's able to actually run the table to be in a position to win the championship, winning impressively is also a must.
Western Kentucky bounced back from a miserable 44-16 loss to an awful Indiana State team with a good effort in a 26-22 loss to Arkansas State. It might have been a better effort, but it was still a defeat in an 0-4 start that doesn't appear to show any signs of turning around soon. The Hilltoppers have to go on the road for three of their next four games and six of their next eight, while the home games are against, arguably, the three best teams in the conference – Louisiana-Lafayette, FIU, and Troy.
Why Western Kentucky Might Win: The Blue Raider defense has yet to show up this season. Being blown away by Georgia Tech isn't a big deal, but Memphis did absolutely nothing over the first few weeks and it suddenly found a balanced attack last week. The secondary is getting picked apart and the run defense hasn't been close allowing a whopping 220 yards per game so far. Again, playing Georgia Tech is a problem stat-wise, but the defensive front isn't doing much to make big stops beyond the line of scrimmage. Getting into the backfield isn't a problem, but doing anything more, especially in key spots, is becoming more and more of an issue.
WKU doesn't do much well, but Bobby Rainey and the ground game are good enough to grind away and keep control of the clock and the game. The Hilltopper offensive line has been a relative bright spot, while the defensive front has been aggressive and strong at getting into the backfield.
Why Middle Tennessee Might Win: WKU can't throw the ball a lick. It bombed a bit on Indiana State for 241 yards, but it wasn't nearly enough to overcome a disastrous day from the defense and four turnovers from the offense. The team isn't good enough to suffer a slew of mistakes, and it can't stop making big blunders with 15 turnovers in the first four games with 12 penalties against Kentucky and 11 against Arkansas State. WKU has to be nearly perfect to win, and so far it hasn't even been close.
Points have been way too hard to come by. It's not like the Hilltoppers have played Alabama and LSU, but the offense has come up with a mere 45 points in four games with way too many mistakes stalling drives. For a team with an inefficient passing game and no ability to push the ball down the field, again, the turnovers are too big to overcome. Only Bowling Green, Tulsa, and East Carolina have given it away more.
What To Watch Out For: The last thing the WKU passing game needed was to lose a top receiver, and with leading receiver Marcus Vasquez out for the year with a torn ACL, others needed to step up against Arkansas State. Instead, QB Kawaun Jakes did what he could to spread the ball around, but veteran Jack Doyle only caught three passes for 19 yards and running back Bobby Rainey, as always, did the heavy lifting with 68 yards and a score on three catches to go along with 86 yards on the ground. The Hilltoppers desperately need a game-breaking receiver to show up in a hurry.
Middle Tennessee's running game has been a positive, but top back Benny Cunningham hurt his foot against Memphis and isn't expected to contribute much, if anything, over the next few weeks. The junior ran for 117 yards against Troy and put up 25 yards against Memphis before getting knocked out, and now it's up to D.D. Kyles to go from being a good complementary player to the star of the show. He ran for 105 yard and a score against Memphis, and now the speedster will get the ball in his hands at least 20 times.
What Will Happen: WKU is overdue for a win, and Middle Tennessee has the ability to clunk thanks to a defense that can't tackle, but the Blue Raiders have too much offense and too many options for the punchless Hilltoppers to handle.
CFN Prediction: Middle Tennessee 31 … Western Kentucky 17
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Middle Tennessee -11 O/U: 63
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