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WKU Football: Gameday Information and Predictions for Week 5 vs. MTSU
GET UP. It's midweek game day. May your hate flow for much more than just 100 miles.
This is a family website, so I won’t say what I truly want to regarding Western Kentucky’s opponent this week, but needless to say, I don’t much care for Middle Tennessee State University.
Conference play is upon is, as is the midweek portion of the Hilltoppers’ schedule: The next four games for WKU come in the midweek, with the final two of those coming on a Tuesday. So plan accordingly.
But we’ll worry about that when we get there. First, we’ve got hate that stretches 100 miles to discuss.
Game Day Information
Game Date: Thursday, September 28, 2023
Time: 6:30 PM CT
Location: L.T. Smith Stadium | Bowling Green, Ky.
TV Channel: CBS Sports Network
Betting line: WKU -5.5, O/U 61.5
It’s been tough sledding for the Hilltoppers over the last couple of weeks, with the humiliation in Columbus two weeks ago followed by a loss that didn’t feel as close as it’s final three-point score would indicate.
WKU enters CUSA play at 2-2 overall, with almost all of its goals from the outset of the season still in reach.
Not only do the Tops have the pressure of trying to get their offense back to where it was expected to be in the preseason, but also the pressure of now getting everyone’s best shot as preseason favorites.
Add on top of that, facing your fiercest rival.
The Tops have a chance to make some 100 Miles of Hate history: A win Thursday night would make it five-straight for WKU, their second-longest win streak in the series and their longest since they won seven straight from 1928-1934.
WKU has also won seven of the last eight, with MTSU’s lone win of the stretch coming back on November 2, 2018.
What We’ve Published This Week
Miss any of our coverage from this past week in the lead up to kickoff? Fear not, we have you covered.
The Towel Rack Staff Predictions
Fletcher Keel (3-1)
I really want to believe that this is the week the offense breaks out of its shell and becomes what we’re accustomed to seeing. But, part of me wonders if we, as WKU fans and observers, are clinging too much to what was instead of what is.
But, I’m an optimist (relatively, at least) and if ever there was a game for Austin Reed and company to break out to the tune of over 500 total yards and 35 or more points, this is it. Opening conference play, at home, against your arch nemeses.
MTSU is in a position where they could become a formidable threat to be conference contenders, but in a year or two (or three). While their pieces are there, they haven’t quite leveled up to where they need to be, especially to compete with the Tops as currently built.
I see a bit of a role reversal going down tonight - usually, we’re looking to the Tops to be the “they’re going to keep it close and make things uncomfortable” role, but I think that goes to Middle tonight. I wouldn’t be shocked to see a tied game, or even a three-point MTSU lead, heading into the half, but I expect the Tops to pull away in the second half and win by double-figures in a misleading final score.
Let’s start the conference year 1-0, feast on Blue Raider tears for another year, and put the last two weeks behind us. Give me the Hilltoppers, 49-31.
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Jared Rosdeutscher (4-0)
Last week sucked a lot. Troy isn’t as good as they were last year but the Topper offense didn’t get things going like they normally would. I don’t really see that happening for a third week in a row and with it being 100 Miles of Hate week it will give the Tops an extra fire to get back in the win column. Crazy stuff always happens in this game so give me WKU winning 42-41 in overtime.
Matt McCay (4-0)
Last week, Troy stank of a tough matchup, and I unfortunately was right in my assessment. I would rather WKU have killed Troy, but it just felt like Troy had some things that would really give WKU some trouble, and they did. This week, I think WKU will be more healthy, with possibly a handful of guys coming back, some of which we haven’t seen thus far this year.
That may prove untrue and maybe no one will come back, but my gut says Dalvin Smith, Blue Smith, and a couple of defenders (probable starters that haven’t played yet) will be active against Middle.
That being said, even if no one returns, I like WKU against Middle Tennessee, and not just because of disdain. I think Western has several distinct advantages that matter (QB ability, receiver potential, offensive line, star power, field goal kicking, and kickoff), while Middle has a few slight advantages (running numbers, total defense, punting average). I think plenty is even, so this could easily be a toe-to-toe affair, especially in a rivalry game.
I still think WKU is pretty much going to win. Will it be comprehensive? Will it be a mail biter? Will it be within a couple of possessions but never really in doubt? I’ll go with the last option. I think WKU’s offense finally busts out, and I think the defense takes a few more games to meld together. Give me Western Kentucky 45, Middle Tennessee 31.
Devin Stewart (3-1)
WKU is finally getting the traction in this game, and it’s against our rival the MUTS. Go Tops, beat Middle.
Josh Owens (3-1)
Apologies for being unable to make a full prediction last week. 100 miles of hate is upon us and the Tops are in slight panic mode after dropping 2 games in a row. The Tops need a game to right the ship and this might be it. Malachi Corley is due for a breakout game and I think this one might be it. He wants the spotlight and this game should provide it being a rivalry game. The Tops should prevail and continue the winning streak in the rivalry however it will be close.
Tops 33, MTSU 30
Alex Sherfield (3-1)
The hard reset button should be pushed right about now, but don’t panic. At least CUSA play is here and what better way to start it than with our old friends (& rivals) MTSU.
Through four weeks of the season, there isn’t much moving the needle for the Blue Raiders. Their offense is averaging 21 points per game, so the Tops defense will have to strive in not letting MTSU prosper on big plays & huge gains. They’ll be desperate to get a quality win at The Houch.
I’m having absolute faith in our offensive woes ceasing on Thursday night. After a lackluster showing against Troy last week, they should be motivated enough to get a flow going to take the early lead.
Anything goes in the 100 Miles of Hate. It’s not going to be easy but it’s worth the challenge in opening conference play.
Give me WKU 36, MTSU 24.
Jacob Gary (1-0; only prediction for HCU)
A Thursday night football game between rivals should be more exciting. But 1-3 vs 2-2 between two Conference USA squads leaves a lot to be desired. In my opinion, Western should roll over these guys. But, Western hasn’t really impressed me too much this season. Still, despite that, with a 5.5 line, I think it is a safe bet for WKU to cover the spread.
MTSU held strong against missouri but has looked relatively weak in every other game. It is hard to pinpoint what the strength of their team is. Western needs to develop the run game more, but who knows if they actually will.
Make no mistake: This is a game between two teams still trying to find their identity. Hopefully Western’s defense shows up to play, if they do, expect it to not go over 60 points total in the game.
WKU 33, MTSU 21