FIRST RESPONDER BOWL: Western Kentucky (8-4, C-USA) vs. Western Michigan (7-5, MAC), in Dallas, Monday at 12:30 p.m. EST.
Line: Western Kentucky by 3.
Series record: Western Michigan leads 11-3-1.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Western Kentucky has a three-game winning streak, and has won seven of nine games, since a 1-2 start that included a season-opening loss to FCS team Central Arkansas. Western Michigan is in its eighth bowl in 14 seasons but has won only one of those games. This is the 15th meeting between the two schools, but the first 14 games were all between 1923-47.
Western Michigan freshman WR Skyy Moore, an All-MAC pick, vs. Western Kentucky secondary. Moore had 13 catches for 287 yards in the last two games. The Hilltoppers, with standout safeties Devon Key and Antwon Kincade, have allowed only 200.5 yards passing per game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Western Kentucky: DE DeAngelo Malone was the Conference USA defensive player of the year. He has 90 tackles with 11 1/2 sacks and 21 tackles for loss, the most at the school in the FBS era since 2009.
Western Michigan: The Broncos have the MAC’s offensive and defensive players of the year. RB LeVante Bellamy has 1,412 yards and a national-best 23 TDs rushing. LB Treshaun Howard has 132 tackles, including 10 1/2 tackles for loss and five sacks.
FACTS & FIGURES
Conference USA is 8-3 in bowl games against MAC teams since 2012. In the only other such matchup this postseason, MAC team Buffalo beat C-USA’s Charlotte 31-9 in the Bahamas Bowl. ... Western Michigan also played a bowl in the Dallas area three seasons ago, when the Broncos were the Group of Five representative in the New Year’s Six, and lost to Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl. ... The First Responder Bowl last year was canceled after being stopped in the first quarter because of thunderstorms and lingering bad weather. Boston College led Boise State 7-0 when the game was stopped. ... The game is being played on SMU’s campus instead of Cotton Bowl Stadium, where the NHL will host an outdoor game Wednesday matching the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators.