Leon Allen rushes for 100+, but the Tops lose on the road


The WKU Hilltoppers looked to do a few things they had either never or rarely done in their trip to Champaign, Illinois, to battle out with the Fighting Illini. First, they looked to win their road opener for just the second time since 2000. Second, they were looking to start the season 2-0 for the first time since 2005, or first time ever as a member of FBS. And finally, they were looking to defeat a member of the Big Ten for the first time ever. They would do none of the above, as good play in the first half couldn’t carry over to the second half, combined with the Illini picking up the pace and intensity, and Illinois survived a second straight week of a near upset by defeating the Tops 42-34

The story of the game can really be found in the second half, and even more than that, in the fourth quarter, where turnovers once again reared their ugly head, as a pick-six thrown into by Brandon Doughty was taken to the house by Illini defensive back Taylor Barton with 10:15 to play (which only made it an eight point game) took all the strength of the wind in the Tops’ sails, and WKU was never able to come back, and would actually give it up again on a Doughty sack & fumble, which the Illini would turn into points a few plays later.

Doughty didn’t have a repeat of his BGSU performance, but you would have been ridiculous to think that he would. But, he still had a good day, and was really good once again in the first half. He ended going 28-for-48 and just shy of 300 yards, along with two touchdowns.

Leon Allen finally broke out like (I think) we all expected him to – he picked up 118 yards on 24 carries and a rushing touchdown, but saw significantly less playing time in the second half than in the first.

Defensively, again – especially in the second half – the Tops gave up a ton of yards; 520 total, and 456 through the air from Wes Lunt, who at times, looked like he was playing touch football on Thanksgiving, finding receivers down the middle wide open for big yard pick-ups.

The second half was full of missed opportunities – a Hilltopper interception by Prince Charles Iworah that was taken inside the Illini 10, but the Tops’ offense couldn’t do much of anything and settled for a field goal. There were also a number of passes, especially late in the game, in which Doughty put juuuuuuust too much on, and brought a new down instead of moving the chains.

As a fan, it’d be easy to see the loss – an opponent that, yes is in a Power 5 conference, but seemed to be on the same talent level as the Tops – as a tough one. But, when asked if it’s a tough one to swallow, Allen said “11-1 doesn’t sound too bad.” If anything, WKU proved that they belong on the field with everyone they’ll play this year, and it was a great tune up (especially in what to and not to do) for MTSU next week.