Sep 28, 2013; Bowling Green, KY, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers cheerleader celebrate a touchdown against the Navy Midshipmen during the second half at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium. Western Kentucky won 19-7. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Football 2014 Schedule Preview: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

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With each passing day, we are getting closer and close to Illinois football in 2014. Even though the Fighting Illini improved their overall record in 2013, fans are just as anxious leading into the 2014 campaign. This is because the Orange & Blue are close to returning to the postseason, and many fans want to see the Illini earn a bowl bid in 2014.

The next game on our schedule preview for the 2014 season is game #2 against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.

The Skinny:

2013 Record: 8-4 (4-3 in the Sun Belt)
Key Losses: RB Antonio Andrews, LB Xavius Boyd, LB Andrew Jackson
Key Returners: QB Brandon Doughty, WR Willie McNeal, WR Nicholas Norris

Player to Watch: The Defense

The Hilltoppers lost A LOT of talent on the defensive side of the ball this past offseason. All of the team’s top 5 tackle leaders from last season are no longer on the team. This means that the leading tackler returning to WKU for 2014 is defensive back Cam Thomas. Thomas had 41 tackles (6th on team), 1.5 tackles-for-loss (10th on team), five interceptions (team leader), ten broken up passes (team leader), and fifteen pass deflections (team leader). Those numbers bode well for Western Kentucky against the Illini pass attack, but what about the ground attack? With a weakened linebacking core due to the loss of players, Josh Ferguson and/or Donovonn Young could have a field day against the WKU defense.

Prediction: Illinois 63 – Western Kentucky 28

Mark my words! The Bill Cubit offense will destroy the weak Western Kentucky defense! Whoever is quarterbacking for the Illini in this game might see some resistance from the WKU secondary, but Ferguson and Young should be able to run free (or “screen free”). The Hilltopper offense should be able to put four TDs on the board against the Illinois defense, but Cubit’s offense will rule the day!

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