Trojans look to stop red-hot Hilltoppers

Published 8:31 pm Wednesday, November 23, 2011

While everyone is recovering from their Thanksgiving feast, Troy’s football team will be running off their turkey intake.

The Trojans will be some of the very few students left in town over the holiday as they prepare for Western Kentucky.

The Hilltoppers are having a historic season in several categories.

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WKU moved to the FBS in 2008 and in their first three seasons compiled a record of 4-32 and won just once on their home field.

Things have changed under second year head coach Willie Taggart. Western Kentucky is 6-5 overall and 6-1 in Sun Belt play, a far cry from how they started the season.

The Hilltoppers began 0-4 before reeling off five consecutive wins including a 10-9 verdict over preseason conference favorite Florida International on Nov. 5.

“What our guys have done right now is just remarkable,” Taggart said. “In three years of being Division I football and to have yourself bowl eligible. It is a story what they are doing right now.”

The Hilltoppers are bowl eligible but with Arkansas State ( and ULL (New Orleans) having already accepted the Sun Belt’s two guaranteed bowl bids, WKU will be looking to swoon other bowl committees into extending an invitation.

The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit holds a secondary bid for a Sun Belt school but the Big Ten conference would have come up short on eligible teams first.

While Hilltopper fans might be scoreboard watching Saturday, one member of Big Red Nation won’t be.

“The only score Coach T will be looking at is Western Kentucky and Troy,” said Taggert. “That is the only important score we are concerned with.”

Troy have a tuff task ahead and if there was ever a reason to watch ones caloric intake over the holiday it is WKU running back Bobby Rainey.

Rainey enters Saturday as the conference’s leading rusher with 1,469 yards and leading scorer with 14 touchdowns.

“He’s a very durable back,” Troy head coach Larry Blakeney said. “He has great vision and finds cutback lanes.”

On paper, the matchup doesn’t look all to promising for the Trojans. Through 10 games, Troy has the league’s second worst run defense, allowing 197 per contest.

Rainey is just 82 yards from setting the WKU career rushing record. Rainey’s 133.5 yards per game this season is second only to Oregon’s LaMichael James.

On the other side of the ball, Troy quarterback Corey Robinson will be heading back to his home state for what he hopes to be a happy return.

“I’m excited to go back and see my family and friends,” Robinson said.

Robinson is a Paducah, Kentucky, native and starred at Lone Oak High School, where he is best known for his 91 passing touchdowns during the 2007 season. Oddly, 28 of those were to a receiver wearing red and white.

Robinson and WKU receiver Jamarielle Brown were high school teammates and will face each other for the first time in their home state.

The game will broadcast on the Sun Belt Network and is set for a 11:30 a.m. kickoff from Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium in Bowling Green.