FACTS & STATS: Site: Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium (22,113) -- Bowling Green, Kentucky. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Troy 3-0, WKU 2-1. Away Record: Troy 1-3, WKU 1-2. Neutral Record: Troy 1-0, WKU 0-0. Conference Record: Troy 2-1, WKU 1-2. Series Record: Troy leads, 8-2-1.
GAME NOTES: Sun Belt Conference foes sporting identical overall record meet on Saturday afternoon, as the Troy Trojans come calling on the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.
Troy has come into its own of late with back-to-back wins, defeating South Alabama at home on Oct. 5 (34-33), and taking care of business against Georgia State on Oct. 12 (35-28) for its first road win of the season. The recent upswing has allowed the Trojans to improve 2-1 in Sun Belt play and 4-3 overall.
After suffering two straight losses in mid-September, Western Kentucky seemed to have righted the ship with three consecutive victories, including an impressive 31-10 road triumph over ULM on Oct. 3. The Hilltoppers encountered a letdown their last time out, however, as they dropped a home matchup with Louisiana on Oct. 15, 37-20, to dip to 1-2 in the league and 4-3 overall.
Troy has a handle on the all-time series with WKU, 8-2-1, although the Hilltoppers got the best of the Trojans last season, 31-26.
Troy has established a strong reputation over the past few years as one of the Sun Belt's best offensive teams, and 2013 is no exception as it ranks second in the league in scoring (34.4 ppg) and first in yardage (486.9 ypg).
The catalyst is without question senior quarterback Corey Robinson, who is in the midst of an outstanding season with 1,889 passing yards and 15 touchdowns on 71.5 percent completions. The signal caller has also come up clutch in recent weeks by leading his team on game-winning touchdown drives in the fourth quarter in back-to-back wins. Robinson is already the SBC's all-time leading passer (12,147 yards), and he is now tied with Rusty Smith for the league record in touchdown passes with 76.
Even with Robinson's success, the Trojans still find plenty of opportunities to put the ball in Deon Anthony's hands, and he has responded with 313 passing yards, 345 rushing yards and five total touchdowns.
Eric Thomas has played well on the outside, having logged 37 receptions for 593 yards, and his 10 touchdown receptions are third-most in the nation. Bryan Holmes has also benefited from Robinson's strong campaign with 29 grabs for 404 yards and five scores.
Brandin Burks is a dual-threat out of the backfield. Not only does he lead the team in rushing with 416 yards, but he has 27 receptions as well. Jordan Chunn (286 yards) is called upon near the goal line and has cashed in with seven touchdowns.
Unfortunately for the Trojans, their defense oftentimes can't stop opposing teams from keeping pace. They allow 33.7 ppg and have been torched in the passing game (323.4 ypg), all while forcing only four turnovers.
Camren Hudson has a team-high 46 tackles, while Tyler Roberts, Jadarius Garner and Antonio Gillespie each have three sacks.
WKU's offense has also been strong this season, putting up 29.6 ppg and 473.3 ypg, and it has been led by arguably the most dangerous all-purpose weapon in the nation.
Antonio Andrews has been nothing short of outstanding this season. He has rushed for an FBS-leading 1,036 yards and has scored 10 rushing touchdowns, but that only begins to tell the story. The senior tailback is also a weapon out of the backfield with 19 receptions for 207 yards, and he is the primary return man as well with a combined 367 yards on punt and kickoff returns.
Under center, Brandon Doughty has been an anomaly this season. He has looked outstanding at times, completing better than 68 percent of his passes for 236.9 ypg with eight touchdowns, but he has been hindered by way too many mistakes (12 interceptions, second-most in the FBS).
Doughty does a great job spreading the ball around, as eight players have double-digit receptions, and five have at least 200 receiving yards. Joel German is the standout performer there, as he has 25 catches for 323 yards, but he has yet to score a touchdown.
Defensively, the Hilltoppers have allowed 25.7 ppg, which is good for second- best in the high-scoring Sun Belt, and their total defensive effort (350.0 ypg) is tops in the league and 24th-best in the nation.
Xavius Boyd has emerged as one of the nation's best linebackers, as he has racked up 67 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 6.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Boyd's fantastic season has only helped fellow defensive playmakers Andrew Jackson (52 tackles, 4.0 TFL), Jonathan Dowling (two INTs, three FF) and Cam Thomas (two INTs, eight passes defended).
WKU showed in its last game that it is not infallible on its home field, and if it's not careful it could be in for another letdown in this one against a potent group of Trojans. Robinson and company will certainly find a way to get theirs, but figure Andrews to take control of this one and lead the Hilltoppers back into the win column.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Kentucky 35, Troy 34
Saturday, October 26, 4 p.m. (et)