With such outstanding quarterbacks dueling against each other, the Over is tempting when handicapping Troy vs. Western Kentucky odds, but Austin Reed and his Hilltoppers playing at home with a better defense gets our attention.
This game might be obscure, being televised on ESPN+, but we’ll venture that this will be one of Saturday’s more exciting games.
Troy vs. WKU Betting Lines: Point Spread, Moneyline, Total
Western Kentucky lays between 5 and 5.5 points in this spot, according to college football Week 5 odds midweek. The total sits between 56.5 and 57.5 as of this Wednesday morning post. Here are current odds from legal US sportsbooks.
NCAAF · Sat (10/1) @ 7:02pm ET
|Houchens Industries–L. T. Smith Stadium, Bowling Green, Kentucky|
Troy Trojans (2-2, 3-1 ATS)
This is a gritty squad, covering as a 21.5-point dog in a 28-10 defeat to Ole Miss to open the season, going toe-to-toe with Appalachian State two weeks ago in a 32-28 loss, defeating Marshall last week as a 3-poing underdog.
Gunnar Watson is ninth on the big board with 1,249 passing yards, but he’s also among the dirty national dozen with five interceptions.
Tez Johnson, with a national-best 25 yards per catch, is his big target, even though he checks in at 5-feet-10, 160 pounds. That’s eight catches for 200 yards, but no touchdowns. He averaged 11 yards on 67 receptions last season, for four TDs.
This is where Jarret Doege landed as a Super Senior, after venturing to Bowling Green and West Virginia, only to back up Watson, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound junior from Georgia.
Watson actually sat back and learned for two seasons. The past three, he has 29 TDs and 16 interceptions. Plus, he’s fumbled it over to the other guys 12 times.
That turnover penchant keyed our decision to back the Toppers.
Still, in this transfer-heavy era of the game, a guy staying at one institution for six years deserves some sort of trophy.
Kimani Vidal and DK Billingsley (a combined 300-plus rushing yards, two TDs) handle Troy’s ground attack, to which Gunnar has a negative effect (more than three yards lost per rush attempt.)
Of course, that means sacks, and the Troy front line is in the bottom 20 in the nation by allowing 12 so far this season.
Watson might have problems with Western free safety Kaleb Oliver, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior who once played at Georgia Tech, and ex-North Texas left corner Upton Stout, who rate nationally with two picks apiece. Western’s paltry yield of 5.6 yards per pass attempt is top 15 in the country, too.
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Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (3-1, 2-2 ATS)
Austin Reed gets our nod, and he, too, might be something of a trivia question.
Who got an NIL deal while leading a Division-II program to a national championship? Yup, the 6-foot-2, 230-pound native of St. Augustine, Fla., who nabbed sponsorship from custom running-shoe manufacturer Running Wild, with outlets in Pensacola and Alabama.
In Pensacola, Reed, who had originally gone to Southern Illinois, guided the West Florida Argonauts to 2019 title glory by passing for 4,089 yards and 40 TDs, with 11 picks. He also ran it in for six scores.
Reed is a notch ahead of Watson in yards, with 1,263 yards, this season. He has 14 TDs and three interceptions. He blistered Florida International last week for 381 yards and five TDs in a 73-0 belting.
He’s 13th with a 175.9 efficiency rating, and his 73.4-percent touch is 10th in the land.
His line will have to be on alert for TJ Jackson, a 6-foot-1, 270-pound sophomore who is emerging at Troy’s Bandit position, or outside backer, with a top-15 national seven tackles for loss, and he’s also forced two fumbles.
If Jackson & Co. are handled, Reed will destroy Troy’s secondary with 6-foot-2 Daewood Davis (16.1-yard average on 22 catches, 3 TDs) and Malachi Corley (13.8 on 20, 5 TDs). Plus, 6-3 Jaylen Hall, Michael Mathison and 6-foot-5 tight end Josh Simon have triple-figure receiving yards on the season.
What’s more, Kye Robichaux (265 rushing yards, a TD), Davion Ervin-Poindexter (132 yards, 3 TDs) and Reed himself, with two ground scores, can keep defenses off-balance with runs.
Troy vs. Western Kentucky Prediction
We’ve got a model that shows Western Kentucky winning by 20 points, making this game one of the value plays of the weekend. Another has the Toppers claiming a 35-21 triumph. A power-rating metric has Western with an eight-point victory. We like the 3-0 unanimous decision in our favor.
Our Pick: Western Kentucky -5 (-110)
Also read: Updated Heisman Trophy Odds