Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (8-5 SU, 9-4 ATS) vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers (10-3 SU, 8-5 ATS)
When: Saturday, December 18, 11 a.m.
Where: FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Fla.
Point Spread: WKU +2.5/APP -2.5 (MyBookie – Use promo/bonus code PREDICT100 when signing up and they’ll give you a 100% REAL CASH bonus on your first deposit of $50 to $300!)
Total: O/U 67.5
Boca Raton Bowl Outlook
If you’re looking to start your Saturday with a bang, this might be the game for you, as these offenses can sling the ball all over the field. Whether they’ll be ready to do so at 11 in the morning might be another matter, as this is an earlier start than either team has seen all year and could prove a tough test in a game against an opponent they know nothing about.
In the case of Western Kentucky, the thing to know is that they believe in passing the ball — a lot. The Hilltoppers have the top-ranked passing offense in the nation at 434.6 yards per game, and Bailey Zappe has tossed for 5,545 yards on the season, which would have been good enough for Heisman candidacy if he played at a bigger school than Western Kentucky. Putting up points is just what the Toppers do, as just one of their past nine games has seen them held to fewer than 40 points.
But on the other side of the ledger, defenses like Appalachian State’s aren’t exactly populating Conference USA. Over in the Sun Belt, App State kept most offenses from doing much of anything, holding four of their final five opponents to 14 or less and three of those four to a single score. The Mountaineers can move the ball pretty well themselves, as Chase Brice finally finds his home at stop no. 3 in his college career. With Western Kentucky struggling to stop the pass all year long, this could be a shootout — or it could be one-way traffic in App State’s favor.
How the Public is Betting the Western Kentucky/Appalachian State Game
The public is slightly leaning toward the Mountaineers, with 57 percent of tickets coming in on App State. It hasn’t been enough to make a difference in the spread, but the total has ticked up from 67.5 to 68.
Tight end Joshua Simon (knee) is out.
Appalachian State reports no injuries.
When Northern Illinois Has the Ball
We know what Western Kentucky is going to do: throw, throw and throw some more. Leading rusher Noah Whittington only has 467 yards on the year, which underscores just how little the Hilltoppers bother to move the ball on the ground. They’re going to put the ball in Bailey Zappe’s hands from the first minute, and whatever happens, they’re fine with the outcome.
That’s both good and bad because the Hilltoppers can score like nobody’s business but cannot really keep teams off the field, which leads to a lot of points. In the Conference USA title game, Western Kentucky was able to get back in the game against Texas-San Antonio, but the Hilltoppers’ deficit was too great because the defense couldn’t really stop the Roadrunners’ attack. Zappe is likely to put up some big numbers, but this is a situation where Western Kentucky basically has to score each time that it touches the ball. If the Hilltoppers fail to get the ball in the end zone, the door opens the other direction.
When Appalachian State Has the Ball
Chase Brice has got to be better than he was in the Sun Belt championship game, as he only managed to go 12-for-30 for 119 yards in the loss to Louisiana. Nothing really worked for App State against the Cajuns, but the Mountaineers should have a much easier time in this contest, as Western Kentucky doesn’t present anywhere near the kind of defense that Louisiana did.
That should allow Thomas Hennigan space to get open and should allow Nate Noel and Camerun Peoples to break free for big runs. App State is at its best when it’s a balanced attack, and Western Kentucky ranks in the bottom half of the nation in both run defense and pass defense, surrendering 422.5 yards per game. The Hilltoppers do force turnovers, so if Brice isn’t making the right reads, this could turn ugly pretty quick, but otherwise, App State should be able to move the ball as much as it wants.
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These teams did used to play at the FCS level, but they haven’t met since 2000, so those results won’t tell anyone anything. As far as current trends, something has to give, because Western Kentucky is 1-6 ATS in its past seven games against the Sun Belt, and App State is 1-4 ATS in its past five games against C-USA. The same holds true with the total, as the over has cashed in five straight non-conference games for the Hilltoppers, and the under has cashed in four of five for App State.
This is going to be a warm one as expected in southern Palm Beach County, with temperatures hitting 83 degrees on the Treasure Coast and cloudy skies greeting the teams.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
App State knows how to win these kinds of games, and the Mountaineers’ defense should be able to carry the day in this situation. App State knows it can stop the pass, while Western Kentucky can’t really stop much of anything. That gives the edge to the Mountaineers as long as they don’t make critical mistakes, and I think they won’t. Give me App State. Want more free bets? Our best bonus offer is a deposit $100 to $1000 and get matched dollar for dollar with a 100% real cash bonus at Betnow Sportsbook! It’s the best bonus offer from a legit online sportsbook!