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WKU Football: Every Expectation to Have For the 2022 Season
Looking at every possible record the Tops could finish with. Which one will be most likely?
Ah yes, it’s time for one of my favorite articles I write every year. I’ll go through every record from winless to undefeated and see how likely it is for WKU to finish with that record in 2022.
Last year, I predicted the Tops going 7-5 which was probably the closest I’ve been to being right since I’ve started making these. Obviously, we know that the Tops did better than that record and finished a little ahead of the curve with a 9-5 record (8-4 regular season) as they finished runner-ups in C-USA and won the Boca Raton Bowl against App State.
One thing to note is that WKU will be playing 13 games this year! They get an extra non-conference game for playing Hawaii in Honolulu so that will give them an extra win or loss this season in the regular season so .500 isn’t a possibility this year.
While we still have some questions moving into next season (which will be here in almost a month) I’ll briefly look at each record. If you need a refresher on WKU’s schedule you can find it here.
This would be all of our worst nightmares combined. While we all know that Bailey Zappe (who broke two NCAA passing records last season) won’t be walking through the door, the Tops should still be in decent shape at QB.
Going winless would ruin most if not all of the momentum WKU has made since going 0-12 when moving to FBS in 2009.
Thankfully this team and coaching staff is too talented to allow this record to happen in real life so don’t count on it.
Likelihood of this record occurring: 1%
This would be just as bad. I’d assume that the one win would be Austin Peay but this would still be horrible and would likely result in fans being very very upset.
Still don’t see this happening either so don’t fear.
Likelihood of this record occurring: 2%
Yikes. Oof. RIP. Big sad. All of those words are what I would say if this happened.
Wins against Austin Peay and probably FIU would not cut it for your average (and casual) Hilltopper fan. Unless half of the team gets decimated with injuries or every scholarship player gets suspended I wouldn’t count on this.
Likelihood of this record occurring: 3%
Still terrible. We can disagree on a lot of things but I think we could all agree that bowl eligibility is the standard of a good team in football on the Hill so anything less than that would be bad.
My guess for wins would be Austin Peay, FIU, and MTSU simply because we hate them.
Likelihood of this record occurring: 5%
This would be extremely disappointing to say the least. After getting a great bowl win and almost winning a C-USA title to nearly reversing your record the next season would be devastating.
Would predict wins against Austin Peay, FIU, MTSU, and Troy but this is still bad as far as I’m concerned.
Likelihood of this record occurring: 10%
This would have to be my basement for this year’s team. Obviously we don’t want to think about things going bad but if they did I don’t see WKU finishing this season being worse than this record.
Coach Helton caught lightning in a bottle with Houston Baptist products Zach Kittley (OC), Bailey Zappe (QB), and Jerreth Sterns (WR) as they absolutely lit up the scoreboards last season but sadly none of them are coming back.
The quarterback situation is still a small question mark as I type this but thankfully the roster is pretty loaded with talent like Jarret Doege from West Virginia and Austin Reed from West Florida who had numbers and potential close to what Zappe had entering WKU. To me it comes down to those two with Doege likely being your starting quarterback week one and Reed being the backup.
While there have been losses at various positions on offense, the team has always had that “next man up” mentality. On offense, losing a lot of the big playmakers from last seasons stinks but a lot of us didn’t think that the new pieces that were added last year would click that fast but they did.
My biggest concern is the defense. With a lot of personnel changes and the loss of DeAngelo Malone there are definitely gaps to be filled.
As we all remember from last season the defense was the Achilles heel of the team, especially in the early part of the season. There were a few games that WKU lost because of defensive lapses which was infuriating but can they be better this year?
New assistant coach Tyson Summers will be at the helm of the defense this year with his most recent stint before WKU being with the Florida Gators as a defensive analyst so he has some P5 experience. And even though Malone is gone, the defensive front still looks pretty solid with Juwan Jones and Darius Shipp returning on the defensive line bringing a lot of senior experience.
Will having some new players and coaching staff stepping up on defense be an upgrade from last season in the long run? It’s definitely hard to tell now but I’m hoping that even if they take a while to click that they won’t do worse than 5-8 on the year.
If the Tops go 5-8 I’d say the wins would be Austin Peay, FIU, MTSU, Troy, and Rice. This would definitely be disappointing after last season but sadly I do have to put it in the realm of possibility just because of the defense situation and questions on offense. If both of them take a while to get their groove this could happen.
Likelihood of this record occurring: 45%
This is essentially the bar that every WKU football team should have in my opinion. Finishing this close to .500 isn’t horrible, especially with all these new pieces on both sides of the ball and it would likely end with a bowl bid so playing in the postseason would still be a good thing.
Personally I think it’s more reasonable to see this record happening than eight wins again only because of so many new faces.
The biggest question mark to me entering this season is the offensive line. With some key departures on the front five, who will step up? Can any of these new players play close to Mason Brooks’ or Cole Spencer’s level? If the offensive line struggles early on it won’t really matter who the starting quarterback is if they aren’t getting any time to drop back without getting hit or hurried. Could also make establishing the run game harder as well. The offensive line was a major key to WKU breaking so many passing records and being one of the top offenses in college football last season.
Losing offensive line coach Stephen Hamby to Texas Tech (along with Cole Spencer) was a major bummer but I’m hoping some of these newer guys can step up under coach Lankford. Even if they struggle 6-7 is still a very possible record.
If the Tops go 6-7, I think the six wins would be Austin Peay, FIU, MTSU, Troy, Rice and maybe either Charlotte or FAU. This is very doable so I believe they can go 6-7 on the year despite some hiccups this season. But I still see them doing just a little bit better than this.
Likelihood of this record occurring: 65%
The best part of a 13 game schedule is that I can’t pick the same record as last season again and repeat myself but this would have to be my prediction for this year, mostly for the same reasons as I had them winning seven games last season too.
Going 7-6 is not only an obtainable record but I also think it’s very realistic as well. We don’t need Doege or maybe even Reed to have Zappe’s numbers to still be successful and I don’t think it would be fair to expect those kind of numbers again either.
7-6 would be just two more losses than last season despite a lot of player and personnel changes and honestly, I could live with it. I don’t expect every WKU team to overachieve or shatter all of our expectations every single year so even with this being a slight step back, it’s still maintaining a winning record and bowl eligibility so it wouldn’t be too bad. And this is with WKU losing some close 50/50 toss up games that could easily go their way as well.
I see WKU beating Austin Peay, FIU, MTSU, Troy, Rice, Charlotte, and FAU this season. This result would give WKU a 5-3 record in C-USA.
Personally I don’t see many major non-conference wins this year.
If Hawaii was later in the season maybe I’d see it happening but jet lag plus a very early season game with a lot of new faces isn’t the best recipe to get a win.
The Tops came so close to beating Indiana last season in Bowling Green but now they return the game to IU so getting that elusive Big 10 win will still be a challenge on the road. As bad as IU was last season, WKU was still one of their only wins so they’d have to be even worse than last season this year for it to happen now and I don’t see that happening.
Lastly looking at non-conference is Auburn. Playing an SEC team in the middle of November doesn’t sound like fun but at least WKU should get a hefty paycheck just for playing the Tigers the week before the Iron Bowl. Even if they aren’t a top team in the country this season they are still going to be hard to beat in their own building this late into the season. Our only hope is they overlook the Tops and start thinking of Bama too early.
This is definitely my lock for how I see the Tops doing this year. I’ll obviously be glad to be wrong if it means they do better than this record but this is how I realistically see it playing out.
Likelihood of this record occurring: 75%
This would be a repeat of last season as far as regular season wins go. I’d definitely be happy with an 8-5 record and if the offense or the defense click earlier than we think it’s definitely possible.
If the offensive line glues quickly to help Doege settle into the offense early on that would be massive and would make a record like this a possibility. And on the flip side, if the defense is able to bend and not break and squeak out a win at Hawaii with the wins I mentioned for 7-6 then there’s eight wins right there.
The other C-USA losses I had were UAB, UTSA, and North Texas. I think it’s possible WKU could win one of those, especially against North Texas.
UTSA are obviously the reigning C-USA champs and WKU came so close to beating them both times but they will still retain a lot their core and could still be very good again this year.
UAB playing WKU in The Houch on October 21st is a must-attend game this season if you’re a true Hilltopper fan. The Blazers went 9-4 last season and they still look to be a solid team in the conference again. This will also be the best opponent WKU will host this season at home too so make plans to go to this one.
If WKU goes 8-5, I see them getting that record with wins against Austin Peay, FIU, MTSU, Troy, Rice, Charlotte, FAU, and North Texas. I still think the Hawaii game is too early to play at their best but hosting the Mean Green in late October definitely is a more realistic choice for a win as they’d hopefully have more kinks worked out and would be playing better.
I think 8-5 is very possible, it just depends on how well the Tops do in these super close toss up games.
Likelihood of this record occurring: 60%
This would be my ceiling for this year’s team. Going 9-4 the year after losing someone who broke two NCAA passing records would be huge and would show that the defense has gotten better to help them close out some close games. If they come out at the beginning of the year firing on all cylinders then I think this is doable.
The crazy thing is that looking at nine wins for this team is possible.
The nine wins I’d predict would be Austin Peay, FIU, MTSU, Troy, Rice, Charlotte, FAU, North Texas, and Hawaii. That doesn’t look too farfetched, does it? That’s not even including a big revenge win at UTSA or a big home win against UAB either. To me this shows how close this team could get to finishing even better than they did last year, they just need to show up in these toss up games.
This would be possible if Doege or Reed is very stable and consistent with the ball and also that the defense is better than they were last year. To finish 9-4 you’d have to have both of those things happen in my opinion.
Likelihood of this record occurring: 50%
Wouldn’t this be nice? A two win improvement from last year would be massive for WKU and also a waning C-USA too. A conference title would be a very real possibility as well as a pretty good bowl game too if this were to happen.
Doege or Reed would have to pick up where Zappe left off passing and the defense would have to have one of the biggest turnarounds we’ve seen on the Hill for this to happen in my opinion.
I’d see WKU winning every game except UTSA, Indiana, and Auburn if this actually happens. This would be an all around great season if it happened but it would require almost every 50/50 game going their way to make it happen.
Likelihood of this record occurring: 30%
Basically all of the things I said about 10-3 would apply here too.
Doing this well would finally put coach Helton over the top as a possible candidate for a bigger job too. He’s had some great moments since he’s taken over the job like last season with the Houston Baptist additions paying off but still missed with having Tyrrell Pigrome being a starting quarterback in 2020 and hasn’t truly developed a quarterback since he’s been here, it’s just been living and sometimes dying through the transfer portal for a quarterback to immediately come in and start. I think he’s done a good job so far but hasn’t had anything that would make him a major candidate for a P5 job but finishing with over 10 wins this season would probably do it.
Only losses would be UTSA and Auburn if this actually happened but there would have to be incredibly consistent high level playing on both offense and defense to make it happen.
Likelihood of this record occurring: 25%
A program defining season. Only one loss probably against Auburn but otherwise perfect in conference and likely a C-USA title and high level bowl game.
I wish I could see this happening in real life but this is almost impossible not just for WKU but any team that isn’t AP top 25 caliber or one of the blue bloods like OSU or Bama.
Likelihood of this record occurring: 5%
Sadly even with an extra win, I don’t see WKU even remotely close to being in the College Football Playoff. They would likely get some type of New Year’s Six bowl game against a Top 10 program but to see this happen in anything other than NCAAF 2014 would be extremely unrealistic and farfetched.
Obviously I’d love it and it would be WKU’s biggest accomplishment in sports in at least the last 50 years (if not all time) but we have to be realistic here and that just simply isn’t happening.
If WKU goes undefeated this season (or ever, honestly) then I give full permission to the team to throw me into a giant tub of nothing but pure ice even if it’s in January.
Likelihood of this record occurring: 1%
Well there you have it, folks! Every possible outcome covered and every expectation for that record.