Illinois plays Western Kentucky in football this week. Below are all the reasons Western Kentucky sucks, some of which might actually pertain to football and the game coming up.
First of all, Western Kentucky is located in Bowling Green, which was the provisional capital of Kentucky when it was a part of the Confederacy, which is awful for obvious reasons and was burned by the Confederates themselves, thus proving how valuable it really was. The city was originally spelled “Bowlingreen,” so they clearly wised up on the spelling at some point, but there are no known lawn bowling facilities to have existed there, which makes the name nonsense. As if that wasn’t bad enough, all Corvettes are made there, so we have Bowling Green to thank for that summer weekend in Champaign when there are no restaurants without a 30-minute wait and the roads are shut down.
Western Kentucky University is the second largest university in Kentucky, but even though it has the largest masters program in folklore in America you’ve probably never heard of WKU. The university goes by the nickname Hilltoppers but the highest point in Kentucky is Black Mountain, which is roughly 200 miles east. Plus, the women’s teams at WKU are the Lady Toppers, pretty sexist if you ask me.
I’m pretty sure that WKU is the basis for the “Human Being” mascot from the show Community, because “Big Red,” the WKU mascot, is literally just a big, red, amorphous blob. I don’t know how you best caricature a “Hilltopper,” whatever that is, but this blob of red fur and eyeballs is probably not it.
Basketball seems to be a bigger deal at WKU than football. Former head coach Edgar Diddle has the 24th most victories in the history of the NCAA and one of the funniest names (exact rankings not available). Diddle coached from 1922 to 1964, though, so take his wins total with whatever size grain of salt you prefer. In 2009, WKU bounced Illinois from the first round of the NCAA tourney. Fans should not forget this and should mean mug any WKU fan at Memorial Stadium on Saturday until they cry.
As far as WKU football goes, they have only been an FBS school since 2009. Before that Edgar Diddle served as football coach for a while so his basketball players could get into shape during the offseason, later on they hired Jack Harbaugh (father to this pleated khaki-wearing savant) and won the 2002 FCS national championship. Last year they hired Bobby Petrino, giving him a second chance after Arkansas fired him for having an adulterous relationship with a 25-year-old former volleyball player whom he may have hired on to his staff illegally and paid $20k for… something.
Now, WKU is trotting out their third head coach in as many years, this time going with someone from the garbage pile of former Ron Zook (remember him? He’s not working as a bank vice president any more, he’s now with the Packers) assistants, picking Jeff Brohm (2010-11 quarterbacks coach at Illinois) to lead their team. This is Brohm’s first stint as a head coach and it would be easy to conclude that he might be a good one, given the fact that his team beat Bowling Green (which is located in Bowling Green, Ohio, so you’re more thoroughly confused) 59-31 while setting school records in total yards (702) and passing yards, with Brandon Doughty throwing for 569 yards.
But, you know what? I’m NOT going to conclude that Brohm and the Hilltoppers are good. I’m going to conclude that Bowling Green’s secondary was full of true freshman who were afraid of the ball (don’t fact check that). You know whose secondary did well last week (even when no other unit was doing well)? The Illini. So don’t expect the “great” quarterback coach who helped Nathan Scheelhaase have his most mediocre season (not counting injury-shortened seasons) with the Illini to come back to Champaign and put up 50 points against a Big Ten football team.
Doughty may have been setting school records last week, but the WKU defense also allowed Bowling Green to amass 465 yards, including 314 passing. Just a hunch, but Matt Johnson probably doesn’t have Wes Lunt’s arm. And now that all the butterflies are out of Lunt’s system he’s ready to raid the WKU secondary just like Ulysses Grant (commander of the 21st Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment) did to Bowling Green (the city in Kentucky, stay with me) back in the Civil War.
And now that I’ve brought it full circle, let’s just hope Illinois doesn’t screw this one up.
Illinois and WKU kick off at 11 a.m. on Saturday. The game can be seen on the Big Ten Network or in person at Memorial Stadium, if you’re a masochist. I tweet a lot during the games, so follow @chris_d_davies for real-time snark.