Western Kentucky's bowl hopes rest on Saturday win

November 24, 2012 

Western Kentucky's senior class doesn't want their careers to end just yet.

The Hilltopper seniors, most of whom were on the roster during a winless 2009 season, will play their final regular season game at home against North Texas on Saturday.

The outcome could determine if they will play another game together.

Three straight losses have jeopardized bowl hopes for WKU (6-5, 3-4 Sun Belt Conference). The Hilltoppers will likely need to beat the Mean Green (4-7, 3-4) and hope several other teams are eliminated from bowl consideration.

WKU hopes for a strong performance from national all-purpose yardage leader Antonio Andrews (241.7 per game). Its defense aims to pressure Mean Green quarterback Derek Thompson, who has thrown a league-high 12 interceptions.

"It's been a long five years, and it's coming to an end this week," senior defensive tackle Kenny Martin said. "We just want to make sure we finish the season off right, sending us seniors off with a victory."

If the Hilltoppers want to see the post-season, this group will have to handle their business at home.

North Texas runs a pro-style set that gets the ball in the hands of running backs like Brandin Byrd — who has carried 188 times for 758 yards and three touchdowns — and Antoine Jimmerson, who has added 544 yards and five TDs on 108 attempts.

Friday's highlights

No. 17 Nebraska 13, Iowa 7: Rex Burkhead scored the go-ahead touchdown in his return from a knee injury and visiting Nebraska secured a spot in the Big Ten title game.

The Huskers (10-2, 7-1 Big Ten) will face Wisconsin next Saturday in Indianapolis. It'll be a rematch of Nebraska's thrilling 30-27 home win over the Badgers in late September.

Burkhead, making his first appearance since spraining the MCL in his left knee on Oct. 20 against Northwestern, broke through with a 3-yard TD run to make it 13-7 late in the third quarter.

No. 23 Kent State 28, Ohio 6: C.J. Malauulu returned an interception 33 yards for a touchdown — 12 seconds after another Kent State TD — and the Golden Flashes (11-1, 8-0) completed a perfect season in the Mid-American Conference with their 10th straight win.

No. 8 LSU 20, Arkansas 13: Jarvis Landry made a spectacular one-handed touchdown catch and No. 8 LSU kept its BCS hopes alive with a road win over Arkansas.

Zach Mettenberger passed for 217 yards and hooked up with Landry for the play of the day with 1:12 left in the first half to put LSU up 10-0.

West Virginia 31, Iowa State 24: Tavon Austin turned a touch pass from Geno Smith into a 75-yard touchdown with 6:31 left and West Virginia held on to beat host Iowa State to break a five-game losing streak. In the first game between the two schools, the Mountaineers (6-5, 3-5 Big 12) trailed 24-23 when they took over on their own 25 after Iowa State's Edwin Arceo kicked a 49-yard field goal.

Smith took the snap in shotgun formation and immediately flicked the ball to Austin cutting in front of him. Austin, who had been held in check until then, turned the corner and easily outran the pursuit down the left sideline.

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