The Swamp won't scare Hilltoppers

Published: Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 1:22 a.m.

The big game feel of The Swamp won't be a shock to Western Kentucky today. The Hilltoppers have seen it before.

WKU has played at Auburn and at Georgia the past two seasons. The Hilltoppers senior linebacker played a high school state championship game in The Swamp while their quarterback is a Notre Dame transfer who has played in several large stadiums himself.

Intimidated? Not this bunch.

"Most people might not believe it, but we're approaching it like any other game," receiver Curtis Hamilton said. "Same stuff, man. Everyone knows it's Florida, but I haven't seen much of a difference from our guys."

The Hilltoppers, who are making the transition from Division I-AA to I-A, have held their own against the SEC's elite in recent years. Auburn defeated WKU, 37-14, in 2005 while Georgia beat the Hilltoppers 48-12 to open last year.

"Obviously it's going to be a little different for us - the stadium, the atmosphere and everything," quarterback David Wolke said. "We need to treat it like any other football game."

Wolke has been in big arenas before. Wolke, a junior transfer from Notre Dame, played in six games as a sophomore with the Irish.

"It's not as new to me as any of the other guys," Wolke said of playing in The Swamp. "Mostly everybody has been in that environment. It's always a factor. I think once the game starts going it's like any other football game."

Hilltoppers linebacker Dusty Bear has already played in The Swamp. The Sarasota native played for Venice High in the 5A state playoffs at Florida Field in 2003.

"It's going to be exciting environment for me," Bear said. "It's The Swamp. Big stadium. Lots of people. Everybody is all about Florida football."

While the Hilltoppers are making a habit of playing in big stadiums at least once a year, facing the defending national champions is something that will come as a new experience.

"It just makes us a little more excited because we have a lot to prove," Bear said. "We know we can't take them lightly because they're a great football team."

Contact Brandon Zimmerman at 352-374-5051 or

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