What does the Bahamas Bowl victory mean for WKU?


While we’re in the opening week of conference play, WKU fans are still reeling in the victory of the first ever Tops’ FBS bowl victory, which its okay to admit, still is hard to believe they held on to win. But, even after all this time, there’s still one huge question.

What does this game mean to the Hilltoppers?

The Hilltoppers have been a member of the FBS for five years. In their third year, the Tops qualified for The Little Caesars Pizza bowl in Detroit, where they lost to the Central Michigan Chippewas (the same Chippewas that nearly came back in the Bahamas).

The following year,  WKU hired a big name coach in Bobby Petrino and went 8-4 with, statistically, one of the nation’s best defenses, yet they were snubbed for a bowl game for the second time in three years. Now, you may blame it on the Sun Belt’s lack of tie-ins or the Hilltoppers bad losses at South Alabama, Tennessee, and to ULL at home. You may even point the finger at attendance. But the team finished above the requirement and was still rejected for a bowl game.

So this year, under a new coach, new conference, untested and a young, young defense the Hilltoppers went 7-5 and were invited for a rematch with the Chippewas in Nassau, Bahamas. In a season where the defense was heavily criticized and the offense received all the recognition for the Tops to get a shot at a bowl, this bowl victory means more than anything at the moment for WKU.

They put themselves on the map with a signature win at a nationally ranked team in #24 Marshall. Then, they put up 42 points in the first half of a bowl game against a team in a conference far superior to CUSA. Now, as you can see I said the win matters, not the game. I say that because for WKU to win the game – that’s what people will remember – but the game itself, Hilltopper fans should want everyone to forget it. For as long as anyone is going to remember, it won’t be that the Tops won, it will be that they almost lost. It won’t be the 49 points in the first half or the five touchdown passes from Brandon Doughty. The only thought will be Cooper Rush’s Hail Mary and the four laterals that ensued in which WKU nearly blew a 35-point lead.

For WKU the win and the invitation was good, however put this behind you Tops, don’t celebrate the win as much as celebrate the learning opportunity that arose from it. Be glad that people know WKU is ready to compete with anyone, but be ready to show that the Tops will never have a repeat of the Bahamas Bowl again.