BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — Western Kentucky has been in this position before.

The Hilltoppers went 7-5 last season but were the lone eligible Football Bowl Subdivision team without a bid. They seemed destined for bowl selection this season after starting 5-1.

Western Kentucky has lost two of three since and is in danger of missing the postseason for the second straight year. The Hilltoppers (6-3, 3-2 Sun Belt Conference) are now on a mission to win their final three games, starting with Saturday's contest against Florida Atlantic (2-7, 1-4).

WKU might still find itself excluded from the two bowl games with conference ties — the New Orleans and bowls. Tied with Louisiana-Lafayette (5-3, 3-2) for fourth place in the league, the Hilltoppers will need to win in dominating fashion to remain in consideration.

"We're in the same predicament this year," Hilltoppers running back Antonio Andrews said. Last year "we didn't get a bowl so now we're trying to get these three wins."

WKU can help its cause by winning at Louisiana-Lafayette next weekend. But both schools lag behind a three-way logjam atop the league between Arkansas State, Middle Tennessee and Arkansas State — all of whom are 6-3 overall and 4-1 in the Sun Belt.

The Hilltoppers have one tiebreaker in their favor, a 26-13 victory over Arkansas State in September. But they've lost to Middle Tennessee and Louisiana-Monroe, putting WKU in the position of needing to win out while those teams would have to lose twice.

Western Kentucky defensive tackle Jamarcus Allen said the team knows it faces an uphill climb if it's to finish among the top two in the league.

"It (stinks) that our destiny is held in other teams' hands right now, what we set forth in our goals," he said. "We can't control it. The only thing we can control is our next game and just coming out on top in that one."

Saturday's meeting with Florida Atlantic follows a long weekend for Western Kentucky.

The Hilltoppers lost 34-29 to Middle Tennessee on Nov. 1. Coach Willie Taggart said the two extra days allowed his team to do some emotional regrouping.

"Just watching (the Middle Tennessee game) I felt like we were an emotionally spent football team," he said.

Taggart added that his team's emotional drainage resulted from this season's heightened expectations, ratcheted up after the Hilltoppers' fast start including road wins at Kentucky, Arkansas State and Troy.

To relieve the stress, WKU went over to the Hilltoppers' baseball stadium for an impromptu home run derby.

"I wanted our guys to get back to having fun and get away from pressing and feeling like they just had to do everything the right way and afraid of making mistakes," Taggart said. "I think that's how we've been playing."

Regaining control of their emotions in time to possibly get a win against FAU could help the Hilltoppers' chances for an at-large bowl berth.

WKU could be considered for the Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24 in Honolulu; the Little Caesar's Bowl on Dec. 26 in Detroit; and the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 5 in Birmingham, Ala.

The Hilltoppers' best shot at getting one of those bids might be if other conferences do not have enough eligible teams to fulfill their bowl obligations.

But for longshot to even be a possibility, WKU must be the Owls Saturday.

"I feel like if we get too far ahead of ourselves (and) think about what bowl we're going to go to or who we're going to play in a bowl," Allen said, "then we'll start to lose sight of the team in front of us. Right now we're just worried about FAU."