It will be a long time before Western Kentucky is afforded a true home game in 2013, but when it finally takes the field at Houchens-Smith Stadium, it'll meet Morgan State – the Hilltoppers' third nonconference game of the season.
The Bears will be big-time underdogs when they come to Bowling Green on Sept. 21 for a 6 p.m. kickoff in WKU's home opener.
Morgan State, which plays in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference of the Football Championship Subdivision, suffered through a 3-8 season in 2012 and had one of the worst offenses in the FCS.
Its three wins came against Sacred Heart, North Carolina A&T and Savannah State, and the program has not had a winning season since 2009 – the only such campaign since 2003.
The Bears' record in 2012 might be somewhat deceiving, however, considering five of those defeats came by an average of 6.2 points. They were also 3-2 at one point before losing six straight to end the year.
Replacing running back Travis Davidson won't be easy after the MSU senior rushed for 958 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. But redshirt junior quarterback Robert Council returns after throwing for 1,487 yards and rushing for 347 more.
Council's favorite target, receiver Andrew King (25 catches for 334 yards in 2012), returns, but the Bears' offensive front will be a key question.
On the defensive side, linebacker Elandon Roberts – a freshman in 2012 – led MSU in tackles with 107, but the Jerry Rice Award finalist transferred to the University of Houston, where he is eligible to play this fall. The team's second leading tackler, linebacker Allen Stephens, graduated.
Senior defensive back Joe Rankin (five interceptions in 2012) is back to lead the secondary, while Demarco Bisbee (45 tackles), Lucson Noel (18 tackles) and Christopher Robinson (40 tackles) return along the defensive front.
The Bears allowed 29.7 points per game in 2012.
Morgan State's trip to WKU will be its final nonconference tuneup before entering the heart of MEAC play. The Bears open the season at Army, one of four straight road trips before playing a home game in 2013.
Western Kentucky has never played Morgan State and will pay that program $315,000 – $250,000 of which comes from the Sun Belt Conference due to WKU having only three conference home games, according to WKU athletic director Todd Stewart. The Hilltoppers are 1-3 in their past four home openers.
Conway named to Rimington watch list
WKU senior center Sean Conway has been named to the watch list for the 2013 Rimington Trophy, awarded annually to the nation's top center.
In 2012, Conway started every game for the Hilltoppers for the third straight season, tallying 13 starts to bring his career total to 37. He took every offensive snap for the second straight season and was one of three Hilltopper offensive linemen to start each game.
Conway helped WKU to the third-best rushing offense in the Sun Belt Conference at 181.7 yards per game.