Mike White And Four Other Players To Watch In The Battle Of The Bluegrass

One of the all-time great FCS rivalries in college football will be renewed on Saturday when Eastern Kentucky and Western Kentucky meet for the first time since 2008.

The two teams have played against each other 84 times -- with the Hilltoppers holding a 46-35-3 series advantage -- but the Battle of the Bluegrass came to a halt after Western Kentucky made the jump from FCS to FBS nine years ago.

Now, with a handful of impact FBS transfers in uniform, the Colonels will head west to WKU's L.T. Smith Stadium in Bowling Green, KY, to add a chapter in the rivalry.

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Western Kentucky's recent run of success is well documented.

The Hilltoppers have been outstanding since joining college football's strongest subdivision, and more of the same is expected in 2017 from a group headlined by…



Mike White, QB, WKU
A lot was expected from White when he arrived at Western Kentucky by way of South Florida, and, yet, he has managed to exceed those expectations.

White passed for 4,363 yards, 37 touchdowns and just seven picks last season en route to Conference USA Player of the Year honors. And if you like the deep ball, you'll love watching him sling it. White led the FBS in completions of 30- and 40-plus yards.

Entering 2017, the senior quarterback is on the watch list for the Maxwell, Davey O'Brien, Manning, and Johnny Unitas awards and the Danny Wuerffel Trophy and the Walter Camp Player of the Year.

While White is the most commonly known character in this cross-state drama, he's far from the only one you should be watching.

Here are some more:

LJ Scott, RB, EKU
It could be said that the performance of running back LJ Scott will serve as a reliable predictor of the ultimate performance of the Colonels offense as a whole.

The 6-foot, 220-pound Louisville transfer arrived in Richmond, KY, after rushing for 396 yards on 71 carries in three seasons with the Cardinals. Incumbent EKU starter Ethan Thomas was pedestrian at best in 2016, so the job belongs to Scott -- and a lot figures to be asked of him.



Nacarius Fant, WR, WKU
Fant was one of the best punt returners in the country last year, but the Tops will lean on him harder for offensive production in 2017.

The senior playmaker is one of the most versatile players in C-USA and will have ample opportunity to impact this game from multiple angles on Saturday.

Aaron Patrick, DL, EKU
Patrick headlines the Eastern Kentucky defense after wreaking havoc on opposing offenses and earning first team All-Ohio Valley Conference honors last season.

The junior defensive collected seven sacks and 10 tackles for loss a year ago and will look to jump-start his 2017 totals against a green Western Kentucky offensive line.

Joel Iyiegbuniwe, LB, WKU
Iyiegbuniwe is the most talented defender we'll see on the field Saturday. In 2016, the All-Conference USA honorable mention racked up 10 tackles for a loss and 3 1/2 sacks as a sophomore in 2016.

Iyiegbuniwe is powerful and aggressive enough to make noise in the box but also possesses the speed and athleticism necessary to be a terror in the passing game. The Colonels would do well to avoid him, but that's a virtually impossible task.


How to Watch Eastern Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky

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