Alabama welcomes Western Kentucky University to Bryant-Denny Saturday, and fans are psyched for the first home game of the season after a dominating win over USC in the season opener. The Crimson Tide's next opponent may not seem like a power player to most, but don't sleep on the Hilltoppers--this team deserves much more credit than Alabama fans are currently giving them. 

Sure, the Hilltoppers literally stumbled out of the gate last Thursday night--but this team is the real deal. I'm sick and tired of seeing garbage posts on Facebook and Twitter dismissing the Tops entirely. They may not be as awesome as Alabama, but who is? There are NFL teams out there that can't hold a candle to the Tide... but I digress.

The WKU Hilltoppers are an incredible team. Don't sleep on my Tops, okay? Here are 7 reasons why Alabama fans need to show the Hilltoppers some respect:

1. They're the defending Conference USA Champs.

The Tops beat Southern Miss 45-28 to win their first-ever C-USA Championship last year. It was an impressive win--even more so when you consider the fact that the Hilltoppers did so in just their second year of membership of C-USA, having left the Sun Belt after the 2013 season.

WKU Hilltoppers celebrate with their fans after a game against the Southern Miss Golden Eagle at Houchens-Smith Stadium on December 5, 2015 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The Hilltoppers defeated the Golden Eagles 45-28. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

2. They didn't lose a single game of conference play last year.

The Hilltoppers finished 2015 with a 12-2 record. Their only two losses were to Indiana and LSU. In C-USA play, the Tops went 8-0. FLAWLESS.

3. They upset Vanderbilt in last season's opener.

Western Kentucky defeated Vanderbilt 14-12 in 2015. Before you dismiss that with a pssh, it's just Vanderbilt, remember this: that same Vandy team also beat Missouri and Kentucky and lost to the SEC Eastern Division Champion Florida Gators by only two points. JUST TWO POINTS. Vandy was thisclose to defeating the Gators at the Swamp, so yeah... they weren't a sentient garbage fire as per normal. Defeating Vandy was a quality W for the Tops.

4. They held their own against LSU.

WKU fought hard against the Tigers last year, and while LSU eventually won the contest 48-20, the two teams were tied 7-7 at halftime. Think about that for a minute--they were able to hold LSU to a single touchdown for 2 quarters of play IN DEATH VALLEY. And throughout the game, they were able to score 20 points on one of the nation's toughest D-Lines.

5. They finished their season as a top 25 team.

The Hilltoppers made school history last year when the Associated Press ranked WKU #24 in its post-season poll. You know which team was ranked #25? The Florida Gators--the SEC East Champs. Think about that for a minute, people.

6.  Nick Saban says so.

Watch the video below--it's from Saban's weekly press conference before the last time WKU came to Tuscaloosa. The EXACT SAME scenario was playing out back in 2012: the Tide were defending National Champs fresh off a big season opener, and everyone was all but calling the Tops a Pop Warner team. Coach was NOT having it and thus bestowed this epic rant upon us.

7. Watch this impressive highlight reel.

I am a little biased as a WKU alum, but come on, y'all. The Hilltoppers are the most dominant team in their conference, so chill with the cake walk trash talk. This is a team of talented young men who play their hearts out every Saturday, and they deserve our respect. Just look at what they accomplished in 2015.

BONUS REASON TO LOVE WKU: BIG RED, Y'ALL

This last one isn't strictly business... forgive me for being a bit of a homer here, but how can you NOT love Big Red? He's adorable; he's got serious swagger, and he's literally one of a kind. You can't even DEFINE him--he's THAT OG. Heck, no one even really knows if he IS a HE. Big Red is what happens when you wish upon a star for the coolest mascot ever. He's memorable AND meme-able; what's not to love?

 

For the record, Big Red represents the spirit of all Hilltoppers... and WTF is a Hilltopper, you ask? A member of the WKU student body. The campus is located on a pretty steep hill, so students and alumni refer to themselves as Hilltoppers. So--there. You learned something today. Now let's watch Big Red do his thang.

 

Check out this vintage pick of your girl and her BFF blowing kisses to Big Red before WKU's 2007 Homecoming game (Meg Summers/TSM)