The Other Sideline is a weekly segment where the Indiana Daily Student interviews a student reporter from Indiana football’s weekend opponent. The questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Indiana has a chance to bounce back from a 38-24 loss to the University of Cincinnati this Saturday when it heads to Bowling Green, Kentucky, to face off against Western Kentucky University.
Ahead of the game, the Indiana Daily Student talked to College Heights Herald football beat reporter Wyatt Sparkman to preview the matchup.
IDS: Indiana is 1-2 but both of its losses have come to top ten teams. How does Western Kentucky view playing Indiana right now?
Sparkman: The team views it as a huge opportunity. Having a Big Ten school coming into their home field, they view it as a rare opportunity and a potential upset where they can turn their season around after a loss to Army.
IDS: How is Western Kentucky looking at playing a Power Five team for the first time this year?
Sparkman: They’re trying to stay within their own system, making sure guys know their assignments. One thing that has been really hurting Western Kentucky over the first two games is its defense — their run defense has been terrible. I think they’re giving up over five yards a carry.
Also you have graduate student quarterback Bailey Zappe. The first two games of the season, on the first drive of the game he threw an interception.
I think they’re looking to start hot and looking to try to build some momentum early in the game so they can ride that throughout the game instead of being down and trying to catch back up.
IDS: What will the atmosphere be like at L. T. Smith Stadium?
Sparkman: It’s gonna be exciting. A good amount of people showed up to the University of Tennessee at Martin game. I think Indiana — a little bit more fans will come out. I don’t know if it’ll be a full capacity but it’ll get close to one.
There’s a lot of excitement about this game. It’s states that border each other and a Big Ten school is coming to Western Kentucky, so I think there’s going to be a good amount of fans there.
IDS: What are Western Kentucky’s strengths?
Sparkman: Definitely the passing game. They have the best passing game in the nation. Bailey Zappe has been really solid.
The only hiccup with him is starting out slow. The first two games — two interceptions on the first drive. Once he gets into a rhythm, that’s the main thing with this offense. When they are going high tempo, their offense is really good.
On the defensive side, a lot of it is their secondary. They’ve got some good veterans back there like senior defensive back Antwon Kincade. They have sophomore A.J. Brathwaite Jr. This is his first year starting but he’s been in the system for a while. And obviously senior defensive end DeAngelo Malone, who’s an NFL talent rushing the passer.
IDS: What does Western Kentucky need to do to beat Indiana on Saturday?
Sparkman: They just need to stay within their game. Going to Army, they were trying to play like Army. They weren’t trying to play WKU football. Once they were forced into doing that at the end of the game, they started playing a lot better.
The other thing is they have to stop the run. It’s been really bad to watch it — they just can’t stop the run. It’s killing the team because they’re losing the time of possession battle. Teams are able to wear them down, controlling the flow of the game. Their defense isn’t getting a lot of air on the sidelines.
The question is if the game is going to be a high scoring game. If it is, I think WKU has a really good chance of winning.
IDS: Final thing, what’s your score prediction?
Sparkman: Oh, that’s a hard one. I think Western Kentucky’s gonna win 42-35. It’s going to be a high scoring game.