Western Kentucky looking forward following victory against Kentucky
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. -- Western Kentucky's Willie Taggart has put last week's events in his rear-view mirror.
The coach said Monday that the Hilltoppers are only focused Saturday's game against Southern Miss.
After apologizing on Twitter last week to the Western Kentucky faithful for saying some students wear Kentucky gear "because they couldn't get into UK," he gave them one of the most memorable moments in school history: a victory over Kentucky. He then took a verbal jab at Wildcat fans by boasting after the overtime victory that "WKU red is the new blue."
Hilltopper fans didn't seem to mind that one.
Western Kentucky (2-1) is favored against the Golden Eagles (0-2), the defending Conference USA champions.
Taggart said players had 25 hours instead of the usual 24 to celebrate the win against Kentucky. That deadline has passed.
"At 11 o'clock [Sunday] night I texted all of them and told them it was over with, we're on to the next one," Taggart said.
The Hilltoppers move on against a Golden Eagles team that lost 49-20 to Nebraska and fell 24-14 Saturday to East Carolina in their Conference USA opener.
The defending C-USA champs have struggled this season under first-year Coach Ellis Johnson but have consistently been one of the nation's best non-automatic qualifying conference schools. Southern Miss is one of eight teams that have been to 14 bowls the past 15 years.
Taggart said a Google search on the Golden Eagles reveals much about the success of the Hilltoppers' next opponent.
"You'll find out about them," Taggart said. "They're a winning program. They win. ... It's going to be another big challenge for us."
One of their primary challenges this week is preparing for Southern Miss' two-quarterback rotation of true freshman Anthony Alford and junior Chris Campbell.
Campbell is 17 of 32 for 214 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Alford is seven of 19 for 94 yards, no touchdowns and one INT but has rushed for 97 yards, second on the team.
"Their offense is what it is," Taggart said. "One guy runs the ball and the other one doesn't.
"Our guys [have] got to do a great job of watching film and studying their opponents and understanding what they're doing when certain guys are in the game."
The Sun Belt Conference rewarded WKU big on Monday for its work against Kentucky with Hilltopper players sweeping awards.
Running back Antonio Andrews (three touchdowns), safety Jonathan Dowling and punter Hendrix Brakefield were named the conference's offensive, defensive and special teams players of the week, respectively.
WKU players and coaches said they appreciated the votes and awards, but weren't getting distracted by the newfound success.
"We just have to keep preparing as good as we can, working as hard as we can and not worrying about all the rest," Dowling said, adding the Hilltoppers "just have to stay in our team cocoon."