Western Kentucky University is trying to get its defense going in some kind of gear. WKU’s offense has mostly been going full speed.

WKU lost its first Conference USA game Saturday night to UTSA 52-46. The Hilltoppers had one of the best offensive outputs in the nation, but their defense has been as bad as the offense has been good.

First, the good numbers, and most of those are from transfer quarterback Bailey Zappe.

In the loss to the Roadrunners, Zappe led an offense that finished with 670 total yards with 424 yards and seven touchdowns on 28-of-35 passing with an interception. On the season, the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder has thrown for 2,235 yards and 21 touchdowns on 171-of-243 passing with three interceptions.

The Hilltoppers are currently 11th in the country with 40.4 points per game and fifth in total offense with 550.4 yards per game. Zappe leads the country in passing yards per game (447) and total offense (451.4), and is second in total passing yards (2,235), passing touchdowns (21), points responsible for (134), points responsible for per game (26.8) and completions per game (34.2). Zappe is also ninth in completion percentage (70.4%) and 10th in passing efficiency (173.68).

“I think he’s a top-five quarterback in the country,” WKU coach Tyson Helton said in Bowling Green this week. “I think the nation needs to know about him, and by the end of the season they’re all going to recognize he’s one of the top five quarterbacks in the country.

The problem with being 1-4 has been facing Army, Indiana and Michigan State in consecutive games — losing all three, but two of them tight to the finish — and not being able to stop opposing offenses.

The Hilltopper defense has given up over 500 yards of total offense to opposing teams in three straight games, 1,590 yards in total.

WKU hasn’t stopped the run yet this season, giving up 211.6 yards per game, 12th worst in the nation, on 4.8 yards a carry. The Hilltoppers have now allowed a 100-yard rusher in four straight games.

WKU has totaled just five sacks this season, tied for fourth-worst in the nation.

UTSA was 3-for-3 on fourth downs, getting a touchdown on one of those tries. WKU is worst in the nation in third-down defense and 12th worst in allowing fourth-down conversions.

WKU has surrendered 30 or more points in its last four games.

Meanwhile, WKU is going to Old Dominion, which is 1-5, 0-2 in C-USA, but was able to push Marshall to overtime last Saturday in Huntington, West Virginia.

Marshall tied the game on a 52-yard touchdown pass from redshirt freshman quarterback Grant Wells with 33 seconds left in regulation before winning the game in overtime on a 22-yard touchdown pass.

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